Hackney Council opposes plans for giant digital ads on Madison Square Garden’s proposed Stratford venue

A CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG

A CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG - Credit: MSG

“Unprecedented” plans by Madison Square Garden chiefs to display giant illuminated adverts on a proposed domed venue in Stratford have been opposed by Hackney Council.

CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG

CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere. Picture: MSG - Credit: MSG

Councillors this week had their say on the multi-million-pound plans by Stratford Garden Development, the New York firm's UK subsidiary, to build the MSG Sphere - a 25,000 capacity entertainment complex over the border in Newham.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) will have final say on the 3,000-page planning application, but Hackney is an interested party due to the cross-border impact of the venue, which would be built on disused land near Stratford' bus station.

Members of the planning sub-committee were not taken by the prospect of digital adverts being beamed across Hackney Marshes from the 90metre-high dome. On Wednesday they agreed with the recommendations of council planners and objected to the application for advertisement consent.

Officers had said in their report the building itself would not be obtrusive in Stratford's built-up skyline, but took issue with the ads.

CGI of the MSG Sphere in Stratford Picture: MSG Company

CGI of the MSG Sphere in Stratford Picture: MSG Company - Credit: MSG Company

They said: "The entire geodesic dome is to be covered in digital panels and illuminated to an extent that is unprecedented in Stratford and in the rest of London.

"This will hugely increase its visual prominence, particularly when moving images are displayed on the dome. The dome will be visible from numerous locations on Hackney Marshes and along the River Lea valley,and will be especially prominent during overcast conditions, at dusk and during the hours of darkness. This is considered to be harmful to the visual amenity of the marshes and river valley."

Last week 50 people attended a consultation event hosted by the LLDC in Stratford. In recent weeks the Stop MSG campaign has gathered 100 objection letters from people in the roads surrounding the site.

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The group has objected on a number of grounds, including extreme light pollution from events and advertising, air pollution, and the potential for overcrowding at Stratford Station, which they say could not cope with additional crowds - especially in the event of a clash with West Ham match days or events at the O2 and the Olympic Park.

CGI of the MSG Sphere in Stratford Picture: MSG Company

CGI of the MSG Sphere in Stratford Picture: MSG Company - Credit: MSG Company

Spokesperson Lisa Wenborne said: "They are trying to dump this ginormous advertising ball right in the middle of a residential area that will blight the lives of people who live locally. We have knocked on hundreds of doors and people don't even know this dome is being proposed."

Hackney's planners also want a requirement included for the developers to work with local artists in Hackney Wick. They said: "The proposal is likely to have a positive economic impact on the surroundings but it appears that no efforts have been made to establish links with the local creative and artistic industries.

"Hackney Wick and Fish Island is one of the first six Creative Enterprise Zones to be designated by the Mayor of London, and it is suggested the operator should be required to consider how they can create links with and opportunities for the artistic and creative industries in Hackney Wick."

MSG says it is already supporting artists in the area through its MSG Up & Coming programme.

And executive vice president of construction Jayne McGivern said the firm had engaged with more than 3,000 people online who "overwhelmingly" supported the venue. She said: "We have been listening to views and will continue to engage with the community. We have proposed that lighting levels and advertising would be subject to planning conditions. We have written to Hackney Council to set out our position, and I am confident we will be able to address their specific issues."

Calls have been made for the site to be used for social housing, but it has already been bought by Madison Square Garden, which says it will bring in £2.7billion for the UK economy over 20 years.

The LLDC said Hackney's objection would be considered ahead of a decision in December. A spokesperson said: "This is a major application and we want to hear what local people and organisations think of these proposals. Hackney have submitted their response to the consultation and this will be taken into account alongside all other comments."

For more information on the plans click here.