Newham locals say fears ‘re-validated’ at fiery MSG Sphere event in Stratford
PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:53 10 January 2020
Planning officers faced a grilling from Stratford residents over the proposed MSG Sphere during an impromptu Q&A last night.
Dozens of people turned out at Chandos Community Centre, Colegrave Road to view the Madison Square Garden Company's revised plans for a colossal new entertainment venue in Stratford.
The event was supposed to be an informal drop-in for residents to speak with officers from planning authority the London Legacy Development Corporation.
But instead a group discussion took place, with many of those present saying they did not have enough time or information to respond to the plans.
Martin Smith, co-chair of Maryland Community Group, said: "The new information doesn't answer any of our concerns. If anything it's re-validated them."
US-based giant MSG wants to build a 21,500-capacity spherical venue in the heart of Stratford, on land west of Angel Lane.
Plans for the would-be music hub, which would be 90m high and covered with a "skin" of LED panels, were first submitted to planning authority the London Legacy Development Corporation in March 2019.
After concerns were raised in the first consultation period, MSG was told to provide more information.
The move triggered a fresh round of public consultation by LLDC.
At the event, case officer Daniel Davies said LLDC was employing expert consultants to make sense of the 300-page application and what it could mean for Stratford.
But when asked if the public could meet and ask questions of those experts before the January 31 deadline, he said it would not be possible.
New Stratford resident Ceren Sonmez said: "It's painstaking to go through the documents. Why hold this consultation over Christmas, over the holiday period?"
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The 28-year-old and her husband moved into Legacy Tower, which looks directly onto the would-be development site, before last March.
The first they heard about the proposal was on picking up a flyer at the front door, the day they went to pick up their keys.
"It has been devastating," she said. "How is this appropriate next to so many houses? They said it's soundproofed but how do you contain the noise 25,000 people will generate? We would have zero quality of life."
In response to concerns raised in 2019, MSG's revised proposal says it would provide a new ticket hall and entrance to Stratford Station from Montfichet Road for potentially thousands-strong crowds leaving the venue.
It has reduced the planned extent of advertising displays on the LED surface, promising that - for 50 per cent of the time, and excluding naming rights and adverts for events - the lit-up exterior would display "non-commercial content".
The company has also proposed a two-way cycle track at pavement level on Montfichet Road past Westfield, and to narrow the carriageway on Angel Lane, removing the current advisory cycle lane.
Zain Miah, a civil engineer, said he was still worried about overcrowding at the station with West Ham also set to increase capacity at the London Stadium.
He said: "I don't think the feasibility study has been extensive enough. We're already on the brink."
Residents also asked about the environmental impact and whether the land, bought by MSG for £60million, could be put to better use.
One woman, aged 50, said: "The site could accommodate 1,200 new homes and in Newham we've got 25,000 people on the housing waiting list.
"When I first came here the contested nature of the Olympics was bad enough. This is another example of how local people are treated in the name of regeneration."
The official consultation deadline is January 31 but LLDC will continue to take responses into account if they are received afterwards. Click here to view and comment on the main revised proposal or here for the advertising consent application.
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