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MSG Sphere developers say scheme still dead despite ministers 'calling in' planning rejection

MSG Sphere developers say scheme still dead despite ministers 'calling in' planning rejection

The developers of the planned MSG Sphere in Stratford say they are not interested in revisiting the scheme despite Sadiq Khan's decision to reject the plans being 'called in' by ministers.

Sadiq Khan refused planning permission for the MSG Sphere on the edge of the Olympic Park last month, citing concerns about light pollution and its general impact on the area.

It will now be up to the Government to make the final decision on the eyeball-shaped arena but even if the Government orders a public inquiry and permission is eventually granted, this will be irrelevant unless there is a dramatic U-turn from the developers, who have restated their determination to walk away.

A spokesman confirmed that housing, planning and building safety minister Lee Rowley has "decided to call in" the MSG Sphere planning application and "associated application for advertisement consent for Ministerial decision".

Green Councillor for Stratford Olympic Park, Nate Higgins, said: “Calling in the MSG Sphere application is a decision that nobody has asked for.

"The decision to reject the Sphere was made on completely solid planning grounds.

"The screens on the outside would have inflicted black out blinds on residents, and Stratford station which is already at capacity would struggle to cope with the increased demand.

"Residents deserve better than a massive advertising billboard the size of Big Ben and the London Eye being imposed on a residential community.”

Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove stepped in on Wednesday to stop Mr Khan torpedoing the huge venue.

His department issued a holding letter to the London Legacy Development Corporation to instruct it not to deny planning permission at this stage.

The company behind the concert venue announced last week that it had abandoned its plans after they were blocked by Mr Khan.

The Sphere Entertainment Company, a sister firm to Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation [MSG], told the Standard it would sell the brownfield site – and look to build in another country.

On Friday evening they reiterated their position to the Standard.

A spokesman said: “The entire 5-year planning process was hijacked by the Mayor and his bogus last minute report.

"Londoners should be dismayed that they are not going to benefit from this groundbreaking project, and others looking to invest in London should certainly be wary.

"Moreso, everyone should be alarmed by how easily the government’s established process was tossed aside by one politically motivated official.

"Mr Gove’s action, although commendable, still appears to us to be more of the same, and we cannot continue to participate in a process that can be so easily undermined by political winds. As we said previously, we will focus on the many forward-thinking cities.”

The Madison Square Garden company began consulting on the 21,500-seater arena in the capital in 2018.

A $2 billion identical venue has already opened in Las Vegas in September with rock band U2 taking a residency there.