UK government steps in to prevent MSG Sphere plans in London from being scrapped

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The UK government has stepped in to prevent plans for London’s controversial MSG Sphere from being scrapped, The Standard reports.

Levelling-up secretary Michael Gove has ordered a six-week pause as he considers calling in the Mayor’s decision to torpedo developments of the Vegas-style venue, which was planned to be built in Stratford, East London.

Last week, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan rejected plans to build the enormous venue after siding with locals, who have resisted the build along with councillors over concerns about health risks and disruptions caused by the estimated 1,000,000 LED light bulbs and bright advertisements on its exterior, as well as strains on local infrastructure.

Khan blocked plans at his stage 2 decision, the planning stage it moved into last year, stating that “independent evidence” showed the proposals would result in “an unacceptable negative impact on local residents”.

Read this next: Las Vegas’ MSG Sphere has reportedly lost $98.4 million

Michael Gove’s department is now planning to instruct Khan not to scrap planning proposals via a written letter to the London Legacy Development Corporation, The Standard reports.

The letter asks for him to “consider whether he should direct under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act that the application should be referred to him for determination.”

It reads: “The Secretary of State hereby prohibits Your Local Planning Authority from implementing the Mayor’s direction of November 20 to refuse permission.”

If Khan looks to torpedo the venue’s development, the secretary of state has the power to overrule the Mayor. Gove also suggested that he wanted the opportunity to scrutinise the development, which was approved by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) last year.

Read this next: Las Vegas’ MSG Sphere debuts first “full illumination” for fourth of July

Designed by architectural firm Populous, who designed the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium, The MSG Sphere would have been nearly the same height as London’s Big Ben (90 meters) and have a diameter of the London Eye (120meters).

In September, a similar venue was opened in Las Vegas costing a whopping $2.3 billion to build. The Sphere was described by locals as “a sun on earth”.

Earlier this month, the Las Vegas Sphere reported a loss of $98.4 million against projected revenues since it opened. The venue’s CFO, Gautam Ranji, quit his post amid reports of “yelling and screaming” from billionaire MSG CEO James Dolan.

[Via: The Standard]

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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