AEG Europe, owner of The O2, has called on Michael Gove to refuse the planning application for the proposed MSG Sphere venue in Stratford, East London.
It follows the decision by the Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to issue an Article 31 Direction to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) stating that he is considering whether the application should be referred to him for determination.
There are no changes in the planning process until Gove reaches a decision on whether to call in the application. But it does leave open the option for the government to consider whether the MSG Sphere London should go ahead.
Gove’s intervention comes after the London Legacy Development Corporation last month signed off the MSG Sphere’s huge external video advertising displays, which has prompted concerns among some in the area. A petition opposing the plans has been signed by thousands of local residents
In response to Gove’s Article 31 decision, local MP Lyn Brown tweeted: “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.”
AEG Europe has consistently opposed the development on the grounds that it is too close to The O2.
Alistair Wood, executive VP real estate and development at AEG Europe, said: “More than a decade after the Olympic Games, the LLDC’s planning decision process is now at odds with the views of the communities that it was set up to support and develop.
“With the LLDC due to be disbanded at the end of next year, it would be democratic for the government to intervene and back the wishes of elected councils in east London who want this inappropriate development blocked to protect the wellbeing of local people and existing businesses.
“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.”
An MSG Sphere London spokesperson said: “MSG is pleased with the progress our planning application is making. We always expected the government to take the opportunity to review our application for MSG Sphere London and their formal notice has absolutely no impact on our plans in any way. MSG Sphere will bring unique entertainment experiences to London and deliver many cultural and economic benefits, including creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of pounds for the local, London and UK economy.”