Sadiq Khan blocks plans for Stratford sphere music venue 

The Mayor of London rejected the plans for the development of the MSG Sphere in Stratford on Monday.

Sadiq Khan’s primary objection to the proposal regarded potential light pollution to residents of Stratford.

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) had applied to build a 21,500-capacity, 90-metre tall spherical structure with an LED exterior for projecting advertisements. 

A spokesperson for Khan said: “The Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”

A review carried out for the mayor by consultant WSP identified ‘significant errors and omissions’ in the planning application which did not comply with the applicable UK guidance from the Institution of Lighting Professionals.

The WSP report also stated that there were significant concerns surrounding the sphere’s height, bulk, massing and the unsustainability of its high energy usage.

SPHERE-LESS: The site for the proposed Stratford sphere. (Image credit: diamond geezer, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr)

The MSG sphere was due to be built on an empty site near the Stratford Olympic Park. 

The proposed music venue would have been identical to the one in Las Vegas which opened in September of this year.

The Las Vegas Sphere is currently hosting the band U2 for a residency until the end of February 2024.

Aside from concerns about light and noise pollution in a residential area, many Stratford and Maryland locals had opposed the development of the venue on environmental grounds. 

Joanna Goldsmid, an environmental educator and Stratford resident, was concerned about the increased effect the sphere would have on climate change, the energy crisis and biodiversity loss. 

She said: “The building of the sphere would mean losing biodiversity through the effects of the light pollution on local wildlife.

“It would mean massive unsustainable energy usage.”

Goldsmid, 51, also outlined the negative effects that the sphere would have had on the mental health of residents.

She added: “Instead of sitting in my back garden in the evening enjoying the moon and a few stars, there’d be a different orb.

“I’d be subject to giant moving images beaming into my home every single night. For me, that is a grotesque thought.

“Now is the time to build spaces that support nature, use sustainable amounts and sources of energy, help people flourish.

“The Sphere does none of this, it would be a giant leap backwards for humankind!”

The MSG sphere could technically still go ahead as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, will have the final decision.

However a spokesperson for Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp said that though the company was disappointed in London’s decision, they had no plans to overturn the decision.

He said: “There are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.”

Featured image: The Las Vegas Sphere – credit to Cory Doctorow, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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