London sphere rejection: what do contractors need to know?

Following the mayor of London’s decision to cancel the proposed London Sphere project, Bal Manak explains why contractors must ensure their projects are sympathetic to the communities housing them.

Computer generated image of a big spheric venue.
(Image: MSG)

Sadiq Khan’s decision to overrule the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and block the planned development of a replica of the Las Vegas Sphere at London’s Olympic Park this week has highlighted the importance of minimising light pollution.

The 21,500-capacity, 100m-tall MSG sphere in Stratford would have been illuminated on the outside with more than a million LED panels – the highest resolution LED screen on Earth. It would also have had an immersive sound system to host concerts, shows and sporting events.

However, despite receiving the initial backing of the LLDC, complaints by thousands of East London residents led to the mayor of London intervening on Monday (20 November) and bringing the £800m project to a grinding halt.

On what grounds was the project rejected?

Nuisance and noise disturbance were the main grounds for rejecting the plans to develop the London Sphere project. For example, it was argued that the entertainment venue would result in sleep-disrupting light pollution, noise and transport issues, and impact driver concentration. It was also suggested it would likely discourage residents from remaining in the area and make the area less desirable to people seeking to move there.

What does this mean for construction professionals?

Construction professionals usually focus on design, efficiency and cost, whilst adhering to planning, employer and funding requirements. The effect of the construction works on the environment can often be a secondary consideration, despite such environmental issues playing such a significant role in the planning process. 

Construction professionals need to consider the impact that a development such as the MSG sphere has on the environment. What nuisance will it cause? What pollution will be emitted? And what ‘green’ credentials need to be considered to reduce its carbon footprint and make it as sustainable as possible?

All these factors are key and must be factored in to ensure developments meet the legal requirements set out by the UK government to give them the best chance of success.

How did the legislation relate to the sphere development?

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 is a wide-ranging piece of legislation designed to cover many of the problems affecting the quality of our local environment, from nuisance (including light) to litter, fly-posting and noise disturbance.

The sphere has been described as a Las Vegas-style development with glitzy lights and sound systems. This is likely to fall foul of the Act due to the unacceptable light levels and noise pollution that will cause nuisance to residents. The decision from City Hall has revealed the sphere would be a “detriment to human health” and cause “significant harm” to “hundreds” of Stratford residents in their own homes.

What other relevant regulations do contractors need to consider?

There are a raft of regulations and legal requirements that need to be considered for commercial property developments, including:

  • Planning permission
  • Building regulations and standards
  • Environmental regulations
  • Zoning and land use
  • Commercial contract requirements
  • Health and safety requirements
  • Insurance requirements.

It is important that contractors consult the local authority, insurers and legal advisers before undertaking any developments. They can properly advise you of your legal obligations and liabilities.

Bal Manak is a construction partner at Square One Law.

The post London sphere rejection: what do contractors need to know? appeared first on Construction Management.

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