On the 6 November I wrote to the London Legacy Development Corporation to restate my opposition to the planned MSG Sphere in Stratford. You can see my reasons, and the text of the letter, below:
I write to you about the planning process for the MSG Sphere proposals. As you will know, I have had serious concerns for some time about the value of this proposed development, the degree of community consent, and the harm it may do to communities in Stratford and elsewhere.
Many local residents clearly have serious objections to the plans on the grounds of light and noise pollution, disruption from construction and operations, the potential for increased anti-social behaviour and traffic, and other issues. I am not convinced that these objections have been withdrawn as a result of the changes that have been made to the proposals.
In particular, the presence of bright lights until after midnight on some days, and beginning again at 6am on some mornings, clearly has the potential to impact on health and wellbeing for residents living nearby.
I am equally unsatisfied that commitments made on issues such as the content displayed on the exterior dome, essential cooperation with other operators such as those of the London Stadium, and crowd management issues could be included in the Venue Operations Manual, rather than in more transparent, detailed and binding plans, set out in advance of final consultation, and of any approval decision.
I do not believe that the current consultation is adequate. There are currently more than 1,900 documents associated with the planning application, and the pandemic restrictions mean that local residents cannot meet together in the normal way to understand, discuss and contribute to a democratic judgement on these extremely complex and often highly technical changes. I believe more needs to be done to enable local residents to understand what exactly has changed and what difference, if any, this will materially make to the concerns many have raised.
Nevertheless, I am told that the LLDC has refused requests to extend the current consultation end date of 13th November. I believe that this is a mistake, and that the consultation should be allowed to continue at least until the current lockdown is ended, and until an accessible and accurate summary document has been created and circulated that enables my constituents to have a considered final say on the plans.
You will know that I share the concerns of many in Newham that the conspicuous and expensive development projects that have shot up in our Borough on a massive scale over the past years have often failed to be accessible to or benefit local residents. I hope that the proposed MSG Sphere will not be permitted to become another example.