MSG Sphere gets planning approval

A computer-generated image of the proposed MSG Sphere.

A computer-generated image of the proposed MSG Sphere. - Credit: MSG

A controversial events venue is set to come to Stratford after a planning application was approved.

The 21,500 capacity Madison Square Garden (MSG) Sphere will be 96 metres tall – as high as Big Ben – and 120 metres wide.

Almost the entire surface will be covered in LED lights showing visual displays and adverts, making it the biggest and highest-resolution screen in the world.

The London Legacy Development Corporation's (LLDC) planning committee voted five to three in favour of the project.

FIND OUT MOREQ&A: D-Day for the MSG Sphere - what could be coming to Stratford?

The meeting on March 22 heard residents would be given black-out blinds to deal with the light from the sphere.

However, planning officers said the blinds were only intended as a “last resort”.

More than 1,000 residents have objected to the plans and more than 2,000 signed a petition against the scheme.

Most Read

Campaigners organising the petition said: “This building would block sunlight to several residential blocks, while also increasing footfall to local stations, which are already struggling with overcrowding.

"The LED cladding would also create light pollution for local residents – many of whom will be overshadowed by the sphere and potentially kept awake by its customers and the bright light and advertising displays.”

Concerns have also previously been raised by Transport for London and Crossrail.

They said there were concerns over transport disruption around Stratford with thousands of people going to the sphere on a regular basis for concerts and events.

Crossrail added the bright lights from the sphere could potentially blind passing train drivers.

In a report recommending the sphere be approved, LLDC planning officers said that while the plans had been highly controversial, it would be a great tourist attraction. 

They said the sphere would “provide an attractive visual backdrop for people living, working, enjoying recreational time, visiting and travelling through the metropolitan town centre.”

The plans were put forward by the owners of New York’s famous Madison Square Garden.

The owners have said they will ensure light from the Stratford sphere creates minimal disruption to residents. They added it would be a huge boost for the local economy.

MSG London told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the sphere would create 4,300 jobs a year while being built and 3,200 jobs a year once open, with 35 per cent going to locals.

The group also said the venue would create £2.5 billion for London’s economy.