US backer withdrew plans for controversial entertainment venue earlier this month

Astronaut - MSG Sphere - London

An external render of the Populous-designed scheme

The Mayor of Newham has called for housing to be built on the site of the proposed MSG Sphere after the Populous-designed scheme was withdrawn. 

Sphere Entertainment, the US client behind the proposals, dropped its plans earlier this month claiming the project had become a “political football”. 

After initial approval by the London Legacy Development Corporation in March 2022, the 21,500-seat entertainment venue in east London was rejected by London mayor Sadiq Khan and subsequently called in by communities secretary Michael Gove. 

Rokhsana Fiaz, elected mayor of Newham, who had been an opponent of the scheme, said the decision to withdraw was a “fantastic outcome” for communities in the area. 

The venue would have been covered in LED panels displaying advertising from dawn until late in the evening.  

A larger sister scheme in Las Vegas, which was proposed in 2018, the same year as the London project, opened last September two years late and nearly $1bn (£825m) more than its original budget. 

“Newham is not another Las Vegas and the MSG Sphere structure – which would have been some 100 meters high and 120 meters wide – would have led to significant light intrusion for residents living in the area as well as negative health impacts,” Fiaz said. 

“Our campaign has never been about being anti-business, as we welcome investment in Newham that supports our inclusive growth ambitions.  

“But investment can’t be at the cost of the health and well-being of local residents. 

“We’ll now be campaigning for the site to be designated a housing and employment inclusion zone because we want our residents to benefit from homes they can afford and jobs that will increase household incomes.”