London sphere developers slam Sadiq Khan for 'hijacking' plans

EXCLUSIVE Developers behind controversial London plan to build 300ft replica of Las Vegas venue slam Sadiq Khan for ‘hijacking’ plans and warn others against investing in capital after Mayor blocked huge build

The developers behind the controversial plan to build a 300ft replica of the Las Vegas sphere in east London have accused Sadiq Khan of ‘hijacking’ their proposal.

The reported £800million development was given the green light by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) back in March but campaigners were left ‘delighted’ after Mr Khan blocked the plans on grounds of light pollution.

Filled with fury from the mayor’s intervention, developers Sphere Entertainment told MailOnline last night: ‘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.’

It comes after Michael Gove, the Secretary for State for Levelling Up, threw developers a lifeline this week by delaying Mr Khan’s refusal for six weeks so ministers can consider whether to call in the application for the music venue.

The developers behind the controversial plan to build a 300ft replica of the Las Vegas sphere in east London have accused Sadiq Khan of ‘hijacking’ their plans after the mayor blocked the huge build. Pictured: An artist’s impression of what the site would look like during the day with no lights on

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (left) has blocked the controversial sphere development but Michael Gove has delayed the direction so ministers can consider the plans

But the fed up developers have abandoned their application and will no longer pursue plans in London. 

A Sphere Entertainment spokeswoman added: ‘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 sphere’s eye-opening selling point of the 21,500-capacity venue, which is proposed beside Olympic Park in Stratford, is the thousands of LED screens that cover the outside of the building, which can display moving images. 

Green Councillor for Stratford Olympic Park and campaigner against the sphere Nate Higgins told MailOnline the sphere will ‘inflict misery on people’s lives’ if it is built.

He said: ‘We’ve all seen the MSG Sphere for what it is – a massive advertising billboard masquerading as an entertainment venue that would have inflicted misery on people’s lives, including blackout blinds and incredible disruption at Stratford station.

‘Sadiq Khan was right to reject the application on solid planning grounds. These are the reasons the LLDC should have rejected this Sphere in the first place.

Pictured: An artist’s impression showing people walking into the proposed London venue as it’s lit up to display an image of stars and the night sky

The music venue would contain a 21,500-capacity arena, as well as bars and restaurants, and the project has been hailed as a ‘pioneer in the next generation of immersive experiences’

James Dolan has said he wants to built more spheres around the world. Pictured: The crowd look on at a kaleidoscopic image during the U2 concert in Las Vegas in September

U2 performed at the Las Vegas MSG Sphere in September, with Bono calling the inventor a ‘mad b******’. Pictured: The band perform in front of a giant screen showing a view of the desert

‘MSG have already said they’re moving on and are selling the land, which Greens have now called to be used for social housing.

‘Even they don’t want this to go on further, inflicting yet more heartache on residents who have lived with the uncertainty for half a decade, and costing yet more public money.

‘For Gove to call in the application now would be an assault on democracy and I’m certain the planning inspector would only reach the same conclusions Sadiq Khan and every local representative already has.’

MailOnline has contacted the Mayor of London for comment. 

This week, Mr Gove Department’s letter to the LLDC, which ordered them not to deny the planning application, read: ‘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.’ 

Campaign group Stop MSG Sphere called on Mr Gove to ‘not put party politics above the health and wellbeing of residents’.

The proposed Sphere is proposed on what is currently an empty car park, next to the Westfield shopping centre

Pictured: An artist’s impression of what the sphere could look like with an image of a singer displayed on the outside

The venue would be built on an empty patch of land next to the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford. Pictured: An aerial view of the planned site

Residents complained about the potential light pollution coming from the venue. Pictured: An artist’s impression of the sphere lit up with an image of the globe

A spokesperson said: ‘We urge Michael Gove not to put party politics above the health and wellbeing of residents. The MSG Sphere does not comply with the London Plan and would cause significant harm to residents and the environment, while doing little for levelling up in East London.

‘Local residents have endured nearly six years of stress and uncertainty over the possibility this deeply damaging development would be built right next to their homes, they now need to be left in peace. We implore the Secretary of State not to call in the application.’

An LLDC spokesperson said: ‘We have received notification that Secretary of State has prohibited the LLDC (for a period of 42 days from 27 November) from implementing the Mayor of London’s direction of 20 November to refuse permission for the MSG Sphere planning application.

‘The direction from the Secretary of State has been issued to enable him to consider whether the application should be referred to him for determination.’

After London’s Mayor blocked the plans, MSG’s chief executive James Dolan said it was the ‘end of the line’ for the development and asked, ‘why doesn’t London want the best show on earth?.

The arena would come with shops and restaurants. Pictured: An artist’s impression of people walking around the outside of the venue

The sphere caused a lot of anger and frustration among local residents. Pictured: An artist’s impression of what the sphere would look like from the air, with the Westfield shopping centre to the right and West Ham’s Olympic stadium to the far right

The controversy surrounding the London Sphere could hardly be more vociferous. But in Vegas there had been nothing but adulation.

Creator Dolan had toyed with the idea of a muffin shape, a box and even a pyramid before settling on the 366ft Sphere.

Construction began in September 2018. Wrapping the LED panels — heat and wind-proof to cope with the desert climate — around 32 steel trusses (each weighing 100 tons) was never going to be straightforward, and the pandemic led not just to a two-year delay to its planned 2021 opening but a doubling of the estimated build cost of $1.2 billion (£1 billion).

Finally, however, in July this year, the external screens were turned on, treating startled residents to the sight of what appeared to be a giant eyeball bulging next to the famed Vegas strip.

The Sphere’s dazzling external displays have also provoked one serious unintended side-effect — a rise in car accidents, as awestruck drivers slow down to take a better look. 

According to The Las Vegas Review Journal, there were 27 crashes in the four-week period after the Sphere was first illuminated, compared with 37 in the two previous months.

Las Vegas locals had words of warning for the people of Stratford, as they compared the light given off by their arena to a ‘sun on Earth’

And after seeing the lights atop the nearly 365ft-high sphere from nearly two miles away resident Billy Cline, 36, said: ‘It’s almost like building a sun on Earth.’

Las Vegas Review Journal reporter Mick Akers said that while in his city, residents are ‘already used to it [bright lights]’, construction in a residential area (such as Stratford) could cause problems at night.

Source: Read Full Article