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Bid to build MSG Sphere in Stratford hits a hurdle after Newham Council meeting

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:19 18 July 2019

Newham councillors have given the thumbs up to a report which says plans to build a 21,500 capacity entertainment venue in Stratford need a second look. Picture: Jon King

Newham councillors have given the thumbs up to a report which says plans to build a 21,500 capacity entertainment venue in Stratford need a second look. Picture: Jon King

Archant

Plans to build an innovative entertainment venue have hit a hurdle after councillors supported a critical report.

Jayne McGivern from MSG explains the benefits of the scheme which will be decided by the London Legacy Development Corporation. Picture: Jon KingJayne McGivern from MSG explains the benefits of the scheme which will be decided by the London Legacy Development Corporation. Picture: Jon King

Members of Newham Council's strategic development committee voted in favour of the consultation to be sent to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) which will decide on the MSG Sphere planning application.

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) wants to build the live music hub on three hectares near Angel Lane, Stratford.

The 90-metre high, golf-ball shaped MSG Sphere includes an auditorium, concert hall, nightclub, restaurants and shops.

It would be covered in a "skin" of LED lights with images including adverts on its surface.

Neighbours and members of the Stop MSG Sphere campaign group explain to councillors how the building will effect them. Picture: Jon KingNeighbours and members of the Stop MSG Sphere campaign group explain to councillors how the building will effect them. Picture: Jon King

Tuesday's meeting at the Old Town Hall, Stratford saw backers and campaigners against the plans under one roof.

Jayne McGivern, MSG's executive vice president for development and construction, said her team was there to listen and wanted to address any concerns.

Newham College's Julia Bollam, Lloyd Johnson from Newham Chamber of Commerce, and Dean Curtis from the University of East London lined up in support saying the venue would boost the area's economy and provide jobs.

"Opportunities like this come along infrequently," Ms Bollam said.

CGI image of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSGCGI image of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG

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But Sakiba Gurda of the Stop MSG Sphere campaign group told councillors the venue was an "unprecedentedly monstrous proposal".

She said the MSG Sphere would force people out of their homes due to light, noise and air pollution as well as put pressure on the surrounding area's roads and Stratford station.

Ms Gurda warned it would attract antisocial behaviour.

Neighbours and members of the Stop MSG Sphere campaign group explain to councillors how the building will effect them. Picture: Jon KingNeighbours and members of the Stop MSG Sphere campaign group explain to councillors how the building will effect them. Picture: Jon King

"[MSG Sphere] will make the profit. We will pick up the casualties," she said.

When Cllr Harvinder Singh Virdee dismissed the Sphere as looking like "a blob" in the middle of Stratford, Ms McGivern replied: "This building is a joyous ball of magic.

"We're not in the business of making anyone's life miserable."

The consultation report takes aim at the number of jobs for residents and the impact on Stratford.

CGI image of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSGCGI image of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG

It states: "[T]his development will have an imposing and dominant impact".

The "unprecedented scale" of the illuminated ads would also set an "unhelpful precedent".

It calls for a £20-25million boost to make sure Stratford station could handle increased footfall.

The report concludes that without its demands being met Newham will object to the bid which LLDC could decide in the winter.

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