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Sadiq Khan Blocks Las Vegas-Style ‘Sphere’ Development in East London

Photo by Cory Doctorow via Wikimedia Commons

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected proposals for a Las Vegas-style “Sphere” development in Stratford.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has vetoed the ambitious plans for a new Las Vegas-style entertainment venue, known as the ‘Sphere,’ proposed for Stratford, East London. The decision was announced on Monday, following a comprehensive review process.

The proposal, put forward by the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company (MSG), envisioned the creation of a state-of-the-art entertainment and music venue. However, following an independent review of the project’s environmental impacts, which was commissioned by the Greater London Authority, City Hall has now cited that its rejection was due to concerns about light pollution, damage to local heritage sites and a potential “detriment to human health”.

The design featured extensive use of LED panels for advertising and event promotion, which City Hall has stated “would be likely to have significant adverse effects on occupiers of nearby residential premises.”

The development was to be modelled upon the ‘Sphere’ venue in Nevada, which was opened in late September this year and has since hosted a variety of sporting and musical events. The proposed Stratford project promised an immersive experience with advanced audio-visual and temperature control technologies. The Nevada Sphere, a brainchild of the architectural firm Populous, has been celebrated for redefining the concept of an entertainment venue, with an estimated $2.3 billion investment in its construction.

The proposed London venue, standing nearly 300 feet tall, was designed to accommodate up to 21,500 guests. It was to feature a main auditorium, a nightclub, a members’ lounge, and several dining and bar areas.

A spokesperson for the mayor has said: “London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city. 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.”

This latest development marks a stark contrast to the Mayor’s initial response in 2018, where he hailed the project as a boost to London’s stature as a global music hub and a significant addition to the city’s thriving night-time economy.

A Sphere Entertainment spokesperson has said: “While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.” 

The ultimate fate of the Sphere project now rests with Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities. While Gove has the authority to override the Mayor’s decision, MSG’s recent statement suggests any dreams of this high-tech venue opening in London are now dead in the water.

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