UK government intervenes after London Mayor rejects plans for MSG Sphere in the city

London Mayor Sadiq Khan vetoed plans to build the sphere last week, citing concerns about health risks, light pollution, and strains on local infrastructure.

MSG Sphere in Las Vegas

Image: Anadolu / Getty Images

The UK government has intervened to stop London Mayor Sadiq Khan from torpedoing plans for London’s controversial MSG Sphere.

According to The Standard, levelling-up secretary Michael Gove has ordered a six-week pause as he considers calling in the mayor’s decision to pull the plug on the development of the Vegas-style venue in Stratford, East London.

Mayor Sadiq Khan rejected MSG’s plans to build the sphere last week, siding with local residents and councillors who raised concerns about health risks, light pollution, and strains on local infrastructure and heritage sites.

“London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city,” a spokesperson for the mayor told the publication.

“But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”

Gove’s department is now planning to instruct Khan not to abandon the planning proposals via a letter to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). It reads: “The Secretary of State hereby prohibits Your Local Planning Authority from implementing the Mayor’s direction of November 20 to refuse permission.”

Should Khan attempt to thwart the venue’s development, the secretary of state has the power to overrule the Mayor on his decision. Gove also indicated his interest in examining the development, which received approval from the LLDC last year.

Designed by architectural firm Populous, the MSG Sphere would have been comparable in height to Big Ben and in diameter to the London Eye. U2 opened the first-ever residency at the Las Vegas Sphere back in September. However, the venue recently reported a $98.4 million loss, and its CFO resigned amid reports of “yelling and screaming” from MSG boss James Dolan.


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