UK Government Blocks Mayoral Rejection Of London’s Proposed MSG Sphere

London’s proposed MSG Sphere venue could still go ahead, as the UK government has now intervened to block Mayor Sadiq Khan’s rejection of a planning application last week.

According to The Standard, Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove has written to the London Legacy Development Corporation—the overseer of development in the Olympic Park area of Stratford, East London, where the Sphere would be built—asking them not to deny planning permission just yet.

The letter reads, in part, as follows: 

“The Secretary of State hereby prohibits Your Local Planning Authority from implementing the Mayor’s direction of November 20 to refuse permission. The direction is issued to enable him to consider whether he should direct under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act that the application should be referred to him for determination.”

Gove will now review the MSG Sphere plans himself and has the power to overrule London’s Mayor, should he find them appropriate. However, the letter goes on to stress that this temporary block does not indicate any future outcome of the application.

The proposal to build the 21,000-capacity venue had reached stage 2 in the planning process. Khan’s rejection of the application claimed light pollution, lack of “green” credentials, and impact on local heritage sites would result in an “unacceptable negative impact on local residents.” 

The proposal has also been met with significant opposition from local officials and residents, who share concerns about potential disruptions resulting from the potential venue’s huge LED exterior.

The Standard also reports that The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation (MSG) which owns and operates the Sphere had been resigned to sell the 4.7-acre Sphere site and would look to build elsewhere following Khan’s rejection.

Featured image from The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation.

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