Will London get a Vegas Sphere after all? Michael Gove weighs up wading into planning row after Khan blocks plans

29 November 2023, 19:34

An entertainment group wants to bring the Sphere to London
An entertainment group wants to bring the Sphere to London. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Dreams of a Las Vegas-style sphere in London may not be completely halted - despite Sadiq Khan's intervention to block it.

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Levelling up secretary Michael Gove is considering calling in the the planning application to build the structure in Stratford, near the Olympic park.

The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company (MSG) wants to bring the futuristic venue to the capital after a the success of the Vegas sphere.

It has captivated social media users, with the giant ball able to beam a revolving face on its exterior, among other displays, while inside it shows amazing graphics to crowds.

But Mr Khan put the brakes on the plans as he warned it would cause light pollution, and cited concerns about its environmental credentials and the impact on local heritage sites.

Read more: Sadiq Khan blocks plans for ‘Las Vegas’ type sphere in east London

The Vegas Sphere has captured attention across the world
The Vegas Sphere has captured attention across the world. Picture: Alamy

Now, Mr Gove has written to the London Legacy Development Corporation - which is responsible for the Olympic Park - to say it should not deny planning permission while he weighs up wading in.

"The Secretary of State hereby prohibits Your Local Planning Authority from implementing the Mayor's direction of November 20 to refuse permission," the notice said.

Read more: Sadiq Khan tells Covid Inquiry 'lives could have been saved' had he been invited to Cobra meetings earlier

"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."

Plans for the Sphere were backed by the corporation but they met local opposition.

Plans for a Sphere in Stratford have been blocked
Plans for a Sphere in Stratford have been blocked. Picture: Alamy

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said earlier this month: "London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city.

"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."

A Sphere Entertainment spokesperson said previously: "While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those."

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