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Proposals for Stratford Field were rejected by the Mayor of London

Proposals for Stratford Field were rejected by the Mayor of London

  • Written by Noah Vickers
  • Local Democracy Reporting Service

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The outside of the 'Sphere' will display advertisements and visual displays, which locals say will keep them from falling asleep

The mayor has rejected plans for a Las Vegas-style “Sphere” entertainment venue on the edge of the Olympic Park in east London.

Sadiq Khan on Monday decided to close the giant eyeball-shaped dome proposed by entertainment company Madison Square Garden (MSG) for three main reasons, including light pollution.

The company said it was “disappointed by London's decision.”

The final decision will go to the Communities Secretary, Michael Gove.

Mr Khan rejected the project, citing the amount of light pollution it would cause to Stratford residents, the huge electricity bill and associated lack of 'green' credentials, and the impact it would have on heritage sites in the area.

A spokesman for the mayor said: “London is open to investment from all over the world, and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious and innovative entertainment venues in our city.”

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

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City council officers said the dome in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park would be “harmful” to health

The Sphere, designed by architect Populous, will be a version of Las Vegas' Madison Square Garden Sphere, a $2bn (£1.6bn) arena that hosted U2 last month.

The London Ball will be covered in LED panels and will be approximately 100 meters (300 feet) high and 120 meters (360 feet) wide. It will be built directly east of the Olympic Park.

The main hall at Sphere will have a capacity of 21,500 people.

“harm to health”

Khan, who is able to intervene on large planning applications, accepted officers' concerns about “significant light intrusion resulting in significant damage” to neighboring properties, the city council's detailed decision showed.

There were reports of residents having to install blackout curtains to avoid glare.

City council documents also revealed that the field was considered “harmful to human health” and causing “significant harm” to “hundreds” of Stratford residents in their homes.

Greater London Authority staff commissioned an independent expert to conduct a review of the applicant's environmental statement in order to assess concerns about light pollution.

The experts, WSP, “identified significant errors and omissions” in evaluating the applicant, according to City Hall.

This included not taking measurements correctly and in line with UK guidelines.

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The London Heritage Development Committee (LLDC) has previously supported the plans as a popular tourist attraction

“WSP concluded that the illuminated ball, along with other artificial lighting within the proposed project… would likely have significant adverse impacts on occupants of nearby residential buildings,” City Hall said.

This included at least 33 homes in the New Garden Quarter residential development; 28 homes in Legacy Tower/Stratford Central; And 177 rooms for students in the Union Student Housing Building.

The size of the ball would make it an “unduly and disproportionately massive and dominant shape” and cause damage to the setting of 16 heritage buildings, including the Grade II* listed Theater Royal Stratford and three conservation areas.

Gove had already issued a “Section 31 Directive”, informing LLDC that he was considering whether to subpoena the plans – effectively giving him the final say on whether they would be granted planning permission.

A Sphere Entertainment spokesperson said: “While we are disappointed by London's decision, there are many forward-thinking cities eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will focus on those.”

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