Ben Houchen invites rejected London Sphere project to Teesside
“Sadiq says No. I say YES,” wrote Lord Houchen on his social media on Monday as he shared the letter he sent to Madison Square Garden Chief Executive James L Dolan, in which he touted Teesside’s “can-do attitude” in a bid to attract the 21,000 capacity performance venue to the North East.
“I am disappointed to hear that… Sadiq Khan has rejected your proposal for the project,” wrote Lord Houchen.
Plans for the MSG Sphere in London, which would have been identical to the newly-opened venue in Las Vegas, were shelved when the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan refused planning permission.
Formal objections to the proposed project, next door to Stratford station in East London, were submitted by Newham Council, Transport for London, and nearby residents who were concerned the 300-foot Sphere clad in hi-definition LED screens would have a detrimental effect on the area.
A Mayor of London spokesperson said: “London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city.
“But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”
Mr Khan said the venue would cause “significant light intrusion resulting in significant harm to the outlook of neighbouring properties, detriment to human health, and significant harm to the general amenity enjoyed by residents of their own homes”.
The London mayor went on to say it would be “bulky” and “unduly dominant” and would not “constitute good and sustainable design”.
“Teesside,” wrote Lord Houchen in his letter, “with its forward-thinking approach to development, presents an exceptional alternative for the realisation of your visionary project.
“I can assure you that in dealing with me you will find someone who is open to progress and will work to remove barriers to investment, not create them.”
A spokesperson for Sphere Entertainment said: “While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.”