Views on MSG Sphere pour in as deal thrashed out over jobs for Newham residents
PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 29 January 2020
The final deadline is looming for Newham residents to comment on proposals for a vast new entertainment hub in Stratford.
There are less than 48 hours left to comment on the Madison Square Garden Company's plans to build the MSG Sphere, a 90m high, 21,500-capacity spherical entertainment venue, on land west of Angel Lane.
Planning authority the London Legacy Development Corporation started a second round of consultation on the plans in December.
Since then, neighbours and stakeholders have piled in with further comments ahead of the January 31 deadline.
Lyn Brown, the Labour MP for West Ham, has now objected to the plans on the basis of "widespread concerns" about light pollution, noise and transport pressures.
Urging the company to "find another site entirely", she wrote: "I believe the potentially serious disruption the MSG Sphere would cause far outweighs the potential benefits."
In late 2019 MSG was asked to provide further information to LLDC before a decision could be reached.
Responding to concerns about overcrowding at Stratford Station, the company said it would pay for a new ticket hall and entrance for crowds leaving the venue.
It has also reduced the planned extent of illuminated advertising displays on the venue's LED-covered exterior.
Jayne McGivern, the company's executive vice president for development and construction, said: "The revised plans we have submitted are another step towards bringing ground-breaking live entertainment events, millions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs to Newham, East London and the UK."
A key commitment by MSG to give 35 per cent of the jobs it creates to Newham residents, though, has still not been agreed.
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In its draft Section 106 agreement - a set of legal undertakings made to the host local authority - MSG stated that 35 per cent of construction and operational jobs on the Angel Lane site would be reserved for people in Newham.
The council's jobs and skills service, Newham Workplace, is set to receive £2.1million if the project goes ahead.
But revised plans submitted to LLDC in November now say that 35 per cent of jobs could be pooled between people in Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
Newham stressed the revised document was a draft it had not agreed to.
A spokeswoman said the section on job targets was "not a position we would support", adding: "We are clear with any developer who wants to build in Newham that they must aim to achieve a target of 35 per cent Newham residents employed during the construction phase and 50 per cent Newham residents employed during the operational phase.
"This is in line with the Mayor of Newham's Community Wealth Building agenda launched this month, which sets out to address social and economic disparities."
MSG also said it was still committed to ensuring 35 per cent of jobs, from senior managers to venue operations staff, went to local people.
The draft commitments, an MSG spokesman said, were "still under discussion with the LLDC, Newham and others.
They added: "How these jobs are allocated between local boroughs is a decision for our stakeholders to resolve."
Members of the grassroots Stop MSG Sphere campaign have urged people to comment ahead of the deadline.
Spokeswoman Lindesay Mace said: "Newham Council must surely object to the planning application again, not only because the employment benefits do not meet their demands but because major negative impacts remain.
"As job figures for Newham residents have been central to MSG's PR campaign, this calls into question much of the support their proposals have received."
Click here to view and comment on the plans.