A major new music venue in east London is a step closer to being built, after planning bosses approved the development in the face of consistent backlash from local residents.
The Madison Square Garden (MSG) Sphere was approved on Tuesday evening (March 22) by The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) – which was set up in 2012 to oversee developments on the site of the Olympic Park in Stratford.
The orb-like venue is yet to be approved by the Mayor of London, but the MSG Company, responsible for New York’s iconic arena of the same name, says the development will be a “a state-of-the-art music and entertainment venue that will pioneer the next generation of immersive experiences.”
As the Evening Standard reports, plans for the venue have been warmly welcomed by the University of east London, who say it will bring jobs both in the construction sector and operational opportunities when it opens.
But West Ham MP Lyn Brown described the proposed development as a “monstrosity” and raised fears about added pressures on local transport – which is already used by visitors to Westfield Shopping Centre and football fans heading to West Ham’s London Stadium.
The sphere is also set to feature massive LED advertising displays around the entire structure, which locals fear will cause noise and light pollution.
A statement from West Ham MP Lyn Brown, opposing scheme, described it as a “monstrosity” and raised fears about added pressure on local transport and in particular the station at Stratford which already copes with travellers to the Westfield shopping centre and West Ham’s 60,000-seater stadium.
Brown said in a statement read out on her behalf: “The last thing we need is another venue disgorging its audience into an already overcrowded transport hub.”
More than 1,000 local residents initially objected to the planning application, while a petition calling for the project to be scrapped has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.
An MSG Entertainment spokesperson said:“We are pleased that the Planning Committee voted in support of our vision for MSG Sphere. Throughout this process we have worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders, and are grateful for their collaboration which is reflected in our detailed proposal. We now look forward to progressing onto the next steps in the approval process.”
The venue would also mark London’s third significant concert arena after the 12,500 capacity Wembley Arena and The O2 Arena on the Greenwich Peninsula, which boasts 20,000 seats.