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

A computer-generated image of the proposed MSG Sphere in Stratford. Picture: MSG

A computer-generated image of the proposed MSG Sphere in Stratford, plans for which are set to go before the London Legacy Development Corporation tonight (March 22) - Credit: MSG

Plans to build a 21,500 capacity entertainment venue in Stratford are set to be determined tonight.

The MSG Sphere - billed as a "billion pound investment in Newham" - has been mooted since March 2019.

Three years on, a decision is imminent.

Will the Madison Square Garden Company be successful in its bid to build this new venue?

And if so, what will be coming to Stratford? Read our Q&A to find out more.

What is it?

The MSG Sphere is described as a 90 metre high, live music hub which would host 21,500 visitors.

Plans also include an auditorium, concert hall, nightclub, members lounge, restaurants and shops.

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The venue would have a diameter of 120m and be wrapped in triangular LED panels that could display digital art, advertising or content related to events in the venue.

Where would it be built?

On 4.7 acres of land west of Angel Lane which has already been purchased by the applicant - the Madison Square Garden Company.

When was the proposal first submitted and who will be deciding its fate?

Plans were first submitted in March 2019.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is the planning authority deciding the scheme.

Will the MSG Sphere create jobs?

Yes. The applicant has promised that up to 3,200 jobs would be created by the venue - plus an additional 4,300 a year during the three-year construction period.

The bid commits to giving 35 percent of jobs at the completed venue to residents of Newham and neighbouring boroughs.

However, the council wants this to be increased to 50pc.

Will the MSG Sphere make money for Newham?

Yes, according to the Madison Square Garden Company.

As part of the original submission in 2019, it was claimed that the venue could generate £2.7bn for the UK economy over 20 years - including more than £50m a year for businesses in Newham.

Should the plans proceed, Newham Workplace would receive £2.1million from the applicant.

What are the concerns?

The proposal has been met with a number of objections on various grounds.

One concern - centring around how Stratford station would cope with increased demand - prompted the submission of revised plans to build a new station entrance in Montfichet Road.

Network Rail also raised the issue of safety - both at Stratford station and for drivers - but these objections have since been withdrawn.

A number of issues have been raised by the Stop MSG Sphere campaign group, including the impact of the digital screens, light pollution, noise and transport pressures.

The group has also alleged that the planning process is "biased", claiming the LLDC has shown the applicant an undue level of support.

Sports and entertainment operator AEG has argued that the Sphere is too close to other major venues such the London Stadium, Copper Box and The O2.

Newham Council has also objected to the proposal twice. 

Where can I find further details?

The detailed proposal is available on the LLDC's website, where you can also find further information on tonight's meeting of the Planning Decisions Committee - starting at 6pm.