MSG Sphere London Plans Rejected By Mayor

MSG’s London Sphere would have been located in Stratford. (Rendering courtesy of Sphere Entertainment)

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan today, Nov. 20, rejected the plans for MSG’s Sphere in the English capital, going against the March 2022 decision made by his office’s planning committee.

As impressive as the Sphere’s external LED screen looks in Las Vegas, it looks like London’s decision makers feared it would adversely affect inhabitants of the densely populated Stratford area in the London borough of Newham, where the venue was supposed to be built.

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A detailed report by London City Hall, quoted by The Guardian, lays out that the Sphere’s illuminated exterior would “cause significant light intrusion resulting in significant harm to the outlook of neighboring properties, detriment to human health, and significant harm to the general amenity enjoyed by residents of their own homes.”

The mayor went back on his original position from 2018, when plans for the MSG Sphere London were first unveiled to the public, stating, “it’s great to welcome another world-class venue to the capital, to confirm London’s position as a music powerhouse and to boost still further our city’s thriving night-time economy.”

The MSG Sphere London had received planning approval from the London Legacy Development Committee (LLDC), which is considered to be the mayor’s own planning committee, in March 2022.

See: MSG Sphere London Planning Approval Granted 768x987 1
The MSG Sphere on the cover of Pollstar’s Q3 issue.

By that time, the applicants had changed the planning application many times over in order to fit the needs of the local community and council of Newham, making it “one of the most complicated applications” ever considered by the planning authority’s own admission, “involving significant consultation with local people, businesses and other authorities.”

A statement from a Sphere Entertainment spokesperson reads, “While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.”

This suggest the applicants have already made peace with mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision, even if the final word in the matter lies with London’s secretary of state for leveling up, housing and communities, Michael Gove.

A spokesperson for the mayor of London said, “London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city.

“But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”

AEG Europe, which owns and operates The O2 in the English capital, had been opposed to the project from its outset. A comment from Alistair Wood, executive vice president of real estate & development at AEG Europe reads, “We welcome the Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of the Sphere’s planning application today. We do not oppose competition in the live entertainment industry, and specifically do not oppose another large music venue in London. However, this proposal had fundamental flaws from the beginning. It was the wrong design, in the wrong location, and this was the right call.”

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