Mayor rejects plan to build huge Vegas-style Sphere in London

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Mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected plans to build a huge Vegas-style Sphere in east London.

The ball-shaped venue would have been similar to the American sphere where U2 played the first show of its residency on 29 September.

The Madison Square Garden Company submitted a planning application to the London Legacy Development Corporation to transform a site in Stratford.

The New York-based company bought a 4.7-acre site which has been left empty since it was last used as a temporary coach park during the 2012 London Olympics. The new venue, known as the MSG Sphere, had capacity of 21,000 for seating and standing and a giant LED screen.

It would have hosted concerts, shows and sporting events.

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.”

At the time of planning application in 2019 Madison Square Garden Company said thousands of jobs would be created during the construction phase, with 1,200 on site after it opens, and a further 2,000 supported in businesses and services across the UK.

But thousands of people living nearby objected and the London Assembly environment committee warned the venue would produce unacceptable light levels.

Alistair Wood, Executive Vice President of Real Estate & Development at AEG Europe - which operate London's O2 Arena said: “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."

Despite today’s result being a relief for campaigners, it’s now up to Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, to have a final say on the plans.

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