Government could ‘call in’ controversial Las Vegas-style MSG Sphere in east London

An artist’s impression of The MSG Sphere  (The Madison Square Garden Company)
An artist’s impression of The MSG Sphere (The Madison Square Garden Company)

Plans for a controversial Las Vegas-style concert venue in east London could be called in by Government.

Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove has hinted he wants to further scrutinise the MSG Sphere scheme in Stratford.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) approved plans for the ball-shaped 21,500-seater arena and 1,500-capacity nightclub on a former Olympic coach park last year, despite fierce opposition from some locals.

Residents living near the proposed site have complained about the external advertising displays made up of more than one million LED lights, saying they will cause unacceptable light pollution in the surrounding area.

Mr Gove has now indicted he wants to review the application, which is backed by Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

An Article 31 holding directive has been issued, preventing the LLDC and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan from signing off the plans before he has decided whether they need to be "called in" for further scrutiny.

Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has urged the minister to call in the plans.

She said: "I've consistently expressed concerns about the MSG Sphere and its adverse impact on our residents.

“I've written to Michael Gove asking that he call in the application for his determination...The health and well-being of Newham residents must come first."

Lyn Brown, Labour MP for West Ham, has also spoken out against the plans.

She told the Standard earlier this year: “The concept of erecting a gigantic glowing ball covered with advertising right in the middle of Stratford, and in direct sight of many people’s homes, is appalling.

“Perhaps such a project isn’t out of place in Las Vegas, where the first MSG Sphere concept is being ‘rolled out’. In Newham, however, this proposal is utterly out of place.”

An MSG Sphere London spokesperson said it always "expected the government to take the opportunity to review" the application for the MSG Sphere and the formal notice has "absolutely no impact on our plans in any way".