Mayor urged to abandon Stratford sphere plans

14 Jul, 2023
written by Sean Whetstone
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is being urged by City Hall politicians to refuse planning permission for a controversial entertainment venue in Stratford, amid concerns over its impact on wildlife.

Members of the London Assembly environment committee have warned the proposed MSG Sphere – a ball-shaped 21,500-seater arena and 1,500-capacity nightclub on a former Olympic coach park close to Stratford station – would produce unacceptable light levels.

The project, backed by Madison Square Garden Entertainment, received permission from the London Legacy Development Corporation in 2022, but still requires sign-off from the Mayor.

In February this year, an Article 31 holding directive was issued by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, preventing the LLDC and Mr Khan from signing off the plans before Mr Gove has decided whether they need to be “called in” for further scrutiny.

In a new report examining light pollution in London, the environment committee urged Mr Khan to refuse the scheme permission, “when and if” it is passed back to him, “to prevent light pollution impacts on the surrounding environment and residents”.

The addition of the sphere would undoubtingly have an impact on West Ham match days with tens of thousands more footfall if the planning went ahead.

Las Vegas’ MSG 366-foot-tall and 516-foot-wide Sphere went live earlier this week. The glowing globe is an entertainment venue slash billboard from Madison Square Garden Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands Corp. The exterior of the rounded structure is encased in 580,00 square feet of LED screen—fittingly named the Exosphere—which, according to its developers, makes it the “largest LED screen on earth.”

The sphere, located just east of The Venetian hotel, was designed by Populous and can host up to 18,000 spectators. The Sphere has several performances and graphic takeovers booked for the remainder of the year, including a concert headlined by U2 and a film by Darren Aronofsky featuring footage from all seven continents.

The lit-up graphic displays are made possible with 1.2 million LED pucks spaced eight inches apart; within each puck are 48 individual LED diodes that are able to display 256 million colors.


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