Dezeen Magazine

MSG Sphere London

Sadiq Khan rejects plans for MSG Sphere in east London

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has refused a planning application for the Populous-designed spherical music venue MSG Sphere London, as it would have caused "unacceptable harm to hundreds of residents".

Khan directed the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to refuse the planning application for the MSG Sphere London because of its "unacceptable" negative impact on residents in Stratford, east London, where it was set to be built.

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

"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."

"Significant concerns" about size of MSG Sphere London

The Greater London Authority (GLA) had commissioned an expert review by global engineering firm WSP, which it said "identified significant errors and omissions in the applicant's assessment."

A note from the report stated that the illuminated sphere, together with artificial lighting within the development, would have "significant adverse effects" for those living in nearby buildings.

"Officers identified unacceptable harm to hundreds of residents, including in the amenity of at least 33 homes in the New Garden Quarter residential development; 28 homes in the Legacy Tower/Stratford Central; and 177 student rooms in the Unite student accommodation building," it said.

The note also stated there were "significant concerns" about the MSG Sphere's height, massing and bulk. It was also concerned that due to its high energy usage, the building would not be sustainable.

The proposed development "would result in a bulky, unduly dominant and incongruous form of development, which would fail to respect the character and appearance of this part of the town centre and the site's wider setting," the report stated.

"In addition, the proposed design concept is a highly energy intensive use, does not achieve a high sustainability standard, and does not constitute good and sustainable design."

Sphere Entertainment to concentrate on "forward-thinking cities"

A spokesperson for the MSG Sphere operator Sphere Entertainment told Dezeen that the company is disappointed in the decision.

"While we are disappointed in London's decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities," the spokesperson said. "We will concentrate on those."

The LLDC will now wait for the UK secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Michael Gove's decision on whether or not he will call in the application.

The MSG Sphere in Stratford would be 90 metres tall and 120 metres wide and was set to be designed by architecture studio Populous. Its application was previously placed on hold by Gove, who issued an Article 31 holding directive for the project in February.

The proposal had received criticism when it was first proposed, with 852 objections submitted in opposition to the project. In total, 355 responses were received supporting the proposal, which was designed for the organisation that runs New York's Madison Square Garden (MSG).

It would be the second MSG Sphere to be built and follow the MSG Sphere Las Vegas, which was recently shown covered in swirling lava visuals ahead of its opening.

The image is courtesy of Madison Square Garden Company.