Live entertainment giant AEG Europe has slammed what it describes as “hopelessly inadequate” evidence for the MSG Sphere, The Madison Square Garden Company’s proposed large-scale music venue in the East End of London.
AEG, the owner and operator of London’s O2 Arena, which the 20,000-capacity Sphere would rival, has requested that MSG’s application is withdrawn and resubmitted ahead of looming public consultation deadline.
An AEG spokesperson claims that, “as proposed, the Sphere would directly negatively impact the safe operation of The O2, and the health and wellbeing of local residents”.
AEG has written to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) requesting that the application for the MSG Sphere is withdrawn and resubmitted after global law firm Dentons analyzed a new set of application documents.
Dentons argues that the MSG Sphere application should be “withdrawn, substantially edited and consolidated” and that failure to do so will leave any decision based on the present material open to challenge.
Amongst the issues alleged by Dentons and AEG are that MSG’s planning application file totals almost 2,000 separate documents and that a new set of documents was submitted 18 months after the application first lodged.
The latest set of planning documents comes after LLDC served a second formal request on MSG for further information in relation to its application.
In response, according to AEG, MSG has submitted multiple supplementary or revised documents, meaning there are now 1,922 documents associated with the main application alone.
“AEG have always maintained we do not oppose competition in the live entertainment sector, or another large music venue in London, but it should not be built so close to The London Stadium, Copper Box and The O2.”
Additionally, AEG claims that an analysis of what it calls a “severe impact” on the London Underground’s Jubilee Line and transport hubs also remains incomplete.
“As a highly experienced venue operator in London, and world-leading venue and events business that has safely welcomed over 70 million people to and from The O2 since opening in 2007, AEG is particularly concerned that MSG’s analysis of the transport impacts remains incomplete,” writes AEG in its press statement announcing the withdrawal request.
It adds: “The safe and efficient movement of visitors to and from The O2 relies heavily on there being sufficient capacity on Jubilee Line trains when they reach North Greenwich.”
Elsewhere, AEG expresses “serious concern” that due to COVID restrictions, the consultation deadline of November 13 does not give interested parties, particularly local residents, sufficient time to be able “to properly understand the changes made and absorb the new material”.
AEG also states that MSG claims, “without credible evidence”, that the Sphere’s proposed two-hectare facade featuring over 1 million LED’s has “no adverse health effects”.
A spokesperson for AEG said: “MSG’s additional planning submissions are hopelessly inadequate and continue to fail to address the issues arising out of its new London context and the specific constraints of the Stratford Site, breaching planning policy in several areas.
“AEG have always maintained we do not oppose competition in the live entertainment sector, or another large music venue in London, but it should not be built so close to The London Stadium, Copper Box and The O2. It is imperative that it does not add to congestion or overcrowding in this area of the city, or on the public transport network, especially the Jubilee line which is critical for the movement of guests to and from The O2. We believe that MSG’s scheme is fundamentally the wrong proposal, in the wrong location, and is technically seriously flawed.
They added: “It appears far from being conceived to reflect its locality, MSG have taken their original concept developed for downtown Las Vegas and transposed it directly onto a tight and constrained site overlooked by hundreds of residential properties in Stratford.
“As proposed, the Sphere would directly negatively impact the safe operation of The O2, and the health and wellbeing of local residents. Eighteen months since first being lodged, and despite dozens of additional planning application documents, MSG have failed to address conflicting reports, or substantiate and justify the wider impacts of the development, despite objections from statutory consultees and the LLDC’s requests for further information.
“On this basis AEG requests that the application should be withdrawn, and the applicant asked to reconsider their plans for the site”
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