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Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
30 November 2023, 12:35

London MSG Sphere may go ahead as government intervenes on mayoral block

The debacle surrounding the mega-venue continues 

MSG Sphere London plans

London's proposed £800 million MSG Sphere venue may still go ahead, with the UK Government now intervening after Mayor Sadiq Khan recently blocked the planning application. 

The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company's (MSG) original proposal was for a brand new, state-of-the art entertainment arena in East London. The design, which replicated the company's landmark 18,600 capacity dome in Las Vegas, gained approval from the London Legacy Corporation (LLC), which overseas development in the Olympic Park area. 

However, the idea was met with widespread opposition from the surrounding community and local councillors. Among the concerns were the capacity of transport infrastructure to deal with additional footfall, and light pollution from the 300ft 'crystal ball' structure, which can display visuals on its external and internal LED skins.

According to the campaign group Stop MSG Sphere London, residents felt 'insulted' at being offered black-out curtains to deal with the impact. Meanwhile, those in favour point to a potential £2.5billion value added to the regional economy. Earlier this month, City Hall opted not to green light the scheme, citing an "unacceptable negative impact on local residents."

"[There will be] significant light intrusion resulting in significant harm to the outlook of neighbouring properties, detriment to human health, and significant harm to the general amenity enjoyed by residents of their own homes," Khan said at the time. 

Now Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, has written to the LLC instructing them not to deny planning permission yet. Instead, they have now been asked to allow more time for his department to weight up the pros and cons. 

"The Secretary of State hereby prohibits Your Local Planning Authority from implementing the Mayor's direction of November 20 to refuse permission," the notice said. "The direction is issued to enable him to consider whether he should direct under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act that the application should be referred to him for determination."

Meanwhile, it was recently reported that Las Vegas' multi-billion-dollar MSG Sphere has lost $98.4 million since its opening earlier this year.