Controversial Madison Square Garden Sphere gets a go-ahead in East London - News - Mixmag
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Controversial Madison Square Garden Sphere gets a go-ahead in East London

The contentious music venue was given the green light on Tuesday

  • Aneesa Ahmed
  • 23 March 2022
Controversial Madison Square Garden Sphere gets a go-ahead in East London

Despite long-standing local resistance, a contentious music venue in East London has come a crucial step closer to being built after planning chiefs approved the idea.

At a planning committee meeting on Tuesday evening, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which was established by the Mayor of London in 2012 to supervise the development of the Olympic Park site, approved designs for the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Sphere.

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The MSG Company, the operator of New York's world-famous stadium, is the brains behind the proposal, which must still be authorised by the mayor.

As reported in the Evening Standard, the company says the sphere will be “a state-of-the-art music and entertainment venue that will pioneer the next generation of immersive experiences.”

As reported in Construction News, after a protracted planning discussion that lasted past midnight, members of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) Planning Decisions Committee voted to approve the ideas. Six members of the committee voted in favour of the motion, while four members voted against it.

Its backers, which include the University of East London, claim that it will create jobs in the region both during construction and after the facility is operational.

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It had already been stated that all jobs at the arena will be paid at least the London living wage, and that at least 35% of the construction jobs would be provided to locals.

MSG's Paul Westbury said the application had been through a "thorough assessment" and that the "state-of-the-art venue" will help Stratford become "a global destination for music and technology."

He said it would enhance London's economy by £2.5 billion and that peoples' feedback had "informed" the plans.

The sphere will have massive LED advertising displays that will "blight the area" with noise and light pollution, according to residents.

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However, West Ham MP Lyn Brown opposes the plan. She called it a "monstrosity" and expressed concern that it will put further strain on local transportation, particularly the Stratford station, which currently serves visitors to the Westfield retail mall and West Ham's 60,000-seater stadium.

The MSG Sphere has been met with opposition from AEG, which owns the O2 Arena in Greenwich, only four miles away. AEG had also raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the process.

There is currently no established date for the MSG Sphere's opening.

Within the MSG Sphere, there will be a separate 1,500-capacity theatre to "help support grassroots and emerging music acts," as well as a 450-capacity restaurant and nightclub, retail spaces, and cafés.

Outdoor facilities, such as a children's natural play area, lounging places, and an outdoor gym, were also mentioned in the designs.

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Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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