AEG Europe calls on Government to block MSG Sphere London plan

Featured image credit: MSG

AEG Europe, owner of The O2, has called on the UK Government to permanently block the proposed MSG Sphere in London after Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove indicated that he is preparing to call in the planning decision.

In AEG’s latest attempt at preventing the construction of the MSG Entertainment venue in the UK’s capital city, the group acted after Gove last week asked local officials “not to grant permission on the applications without specific authorisation” by issuing a holding direction to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). Gove’s intervention comes after the LLDC last month signed off the MSG Sphere’s external advertising.

In a statement, AEG described Gove’s intervention at this stage as “significant” because he has the jurisdiction to block the development entirely. AEG claims that the LLDC’s decision-making process has been seriously flawed and that the proposed LED-covered live music and entertainment venue will add congestion to the local public transport infrastructure and blot London’s skyline.

AEG has also questioned LLDC’s role in the approval process with the organisation due to be disbanded next year.

Alistair Wood, AEG Europe’s executive vice-president real estate and development, said: “Since these proposals first emerged back in 2017, AEG has consistently raised its objections to the unacceptable impact that this proposal will have on the operation of The O2 and the hundreds of residents who will be even more directly affected.”

A planning application for the MSG Sphere project was first submitted to the LLDC in March 2019. MSG Sphere would be located in Stratford, East London, and would have a scalable capacity of up to 17,500 seated, or 21,500 when there is a mix of seated and standing. The latter, in theory, would be greater than the official capacity of The O2.

While many support the MSG Sphere venture and the role it could play in attracting more major acts to London and boosting competition, notable opposition has come from local elected officials and members of the public. A petition opposing the plans has been signed by thousands of local residents and there are vocal objections from local politicians including Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz and MP for West Ham, Lyn Brown.

Brown added on Twitter: “Last year I wrote to the Government and Mayor of London about stopping the monstrous MSG Sphere. Michael Gove has now issued a legal notice and I’m hoping he’ll act. The undemocratic LLDC steamrolled all local elected opposition, so it’s only right to take the final decision out of their hands.”