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Populous Sphere’s giant glowing adverts spark controversy

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Populous is facing growing opposition to its plans for a spherical arena in east London after both the London Mayor and local councils voiced concerns over its 90m-high ad display

The GLA’s planning team, local councils Hackney and Newham and heritage heavyweight Historic England have expressed fears that the MSG Sphere in Stratford will have a negative impact on the area.

The Mayor’s planning team recently published a 20-page report on the 21,500-capacity music and entertainment venue in which officers say they have ’significant concerns’ over the venue’s intention to display giant illuminated adverts on its walls.

While the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) will have final say on the project, the sphere’s cross-border location means local councils Hackney and Newham are both interested parties.

Ahead of a planning committee tonight (Tuesday 16) to agree Newham’s position on the scheme, borough planning officers have called for the ‘imposing and dominant’ venue to be refused, saying it will ’display adverts at an unprecedented scale’.

Hackney Council is also opposing the application for ads to be displayed on the giant dome, raising concerns about the views from Hackney Marshes.

In addition to the local authorities, Historic England has also voiced fears over the impact of the ‘glowing structure’ on protected areas such as Victoria Park, St John’s Conservation Area and University Conservation Area.

Meanwhile a petition against the sphere by local residents titled Stop the MSG Sphere - Stratford needs social houses, not a sun-blocking events arena! has gathered nearly 1,000 signatures. 

The globe-shaped structure is being backed by MSG Ventures, the firm behind New York’s Madison Square Garden arena, and has been earmarked for a 2ha former coach park next to the Westfield shopping centre.

The building is set to become the largest concert arena in the UK with a diameter of 120m and maximum height of 90m and could be ready to open in 2022.

A spokesperson for MSG said: ’We are reviewing the report and look forward to discussing our plans in more detail with the planning teams at the LLDC and GLA’.

The full planning application, which was lodged with the London Legacy Development Corporation, can be seen here.

Msg sphere london earth display

MSG sphere in Stratford, east London. Earth display. Visual from summer 2018

MSG sphere in Stratford, east London. Earth display. Visual from summer 2018

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • `I played football on the Hackney Marshes. I designed players changing rooms there. Its an activity open space. Can't see how the adverts on the sphere are detrimental to Hackney Marshes. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

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  • What an attraction! I can't wait.

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  • P.s. put restrictions on the adverts, times of day etc, don't block innovation and progress!

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