The green light has now been given on controversial plans to build a new housing estate on Horwich Golf Club in Bolton.
The development had been strongly opposed by both Bolton Council – whose planning committee unanimously rejected the latest application – and the Stocks Residents Association, which represented neighbouring householders.
Developers Peel L&P appealed two applications – which were both refused by Bolton’s planning committee – one for 276 homes on the site, and one for a smaller scheme which would see 150 houses built on the golf course off Victoria Road.
But the latest appeal has been approved, The Bolton News reports.
The decision has been met with a furious response by local representatives, and described as a “kick in the teeth”.
After a five day inquiry – which finished in early July – the planning inspector dismissed the case of both Bolton Council and the Stocks Residents Association, despite them putting forward evidence that building the proposal would cause “serious and substantial” harm to the area.
“I am absolutely devastated by the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to allow both appeals by Peel,” said Horwich councillor Marie Brady.
“This will see a golf course, on open green fields covered with houses.
“The housing needs assessment for Horwich, the evidence of wildlife corridors, the effect of this development on the already creaking infrastructure of Horwich, the affect on air quality by hundreds more cars queueing outside two primary schools and one secondary school – all disregarded by the Planning Inspector.
“The decision can only be described as tragic and a kick in the teeth to the Stocks Residents Association and all the residents of Horwich who supported and funded the SRA to fight Peel.”
Bolton Council argued “serious harm” would be caused by building on the protected land – but Peel and Northstone said the council “acted unreasonably” in refusing permission for both schemes.
In the ruling, the planning inspector conceded that both schemes “would result in the loss of predominately greenspace to mainly housing development outside the settlement boundary of Horwich”, and added that “both proposed developments would cause some harm to the character and appearance of these area.”
However, he admitted that “the combined adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”
Horwich Golf Club has run at a loss for 10 years – and the inquiry heard that the club only had 188 members. It approached Peel to sell the land in 2012.
Now that plans have been given the green light, Peel have said the housing development would be an investment worth more than £34 million, and would create 235 jobs during the construction process.
Featured Image – Peel L&P
Three men jailed for life after attempted murder of 16-year-old Salford boy
Three men have been handed lengthy jail sentences after the attempted murder of a 16-year-old boy in Salford last March.
Aiden Broadhurst, Kyle Meighan, and Jieh Sufyaan have each been jailed for 32 years.
Each of the three men were jailed for life at Manchester Crown Court yesterday (26 February 2024) after being found guilty of attempted murder following a two-month trial, and all received the same sentences – including an additional three years each on licence.
It comes after a 16-year-old boy, who Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say cannot be named for legal reasons, was riding his motorbike through the Salford town of Eccles on the afternoon of Sunday 19 March 2023, when he was spotted by Broadhurst, Meighan, and Sufyaan and an “immediate assembly for a targeted attack” was then promptly “organised”.
The court heard that the boy was riding the motorbike with his girlfriend to a local convenience store, and the pair made their way onto Station Road towards Armitage Street, with CCTV showing they were closely-followed by the suspect motorbike, which traced the route the boy had taken and pulled up alongside them.
Seconds later, two gunshots were heard.
The 16-year-old boy sustained a single gunshot wound, which went through his arm and into his chest, and was taken to hospital for treatment shortly after – but thankfully, was discharged a couple of days later to recover at home.
Following the distressing incident, a police investigation was subsequently launched, which was named ‘Operation Knott’.
‘Operation Knott’ was primarily led by GMP’s Serious Crime Division, in conjunction with Salford district policing teams, and was said to have involved “painstaking” work to determine the events tht happened, all eventually leading to the apprehending and sentencing of the three suspects.
“We hope that today’s result will go some way to allowing the victim to heal and move on with his life,” commented GMP’s Detective Chief Inspector, Neil Higginson, following yesterday’s sentencing.
“Every single officer who took part in this investigation is committed to keeping people who live within the local community safe, as it is simply unacceptable to have people carrying guns and using these, and we will make it our life’s work to ensure that these kinds of people are taken off the streets.
“We would also like to thank the community of Salford, as their ongoing support ensures we can tackle crime together and keep people of Manchester safe.”
Featured Image – GMP
An award-winning documentary about a controversial religious group in Manchester is free to watch right now
We recently stumbled across one of the best short films we’ve watched in a long time and it revolves around a controversial religious group known as ‘WMSCOG’ that has roots all over the world — including right here in Manchester.
You’d be forgiven for having never heard of World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) before but, chances are, if you’ve simply walked through Manchester city centre you will likely have come across them at some point whether you know it or not.
Having been described as everything from a ‘doomsday group’ that has put forward multiple failed world-ending predictions, to an ‘abusive’, ‘opportunistic’ and ‘mind-controlling cult‘ by former members who now condemn the church, their story is one of the most intriguing subjects in modern theology.
With a highly complex and often confusing religious framework, comprised of multiple sub-strata and levels to their hierarchy which all centres around worshipping an old lady in South Korea, it can be tough to wrap your head around exactly who and what they are. And that’s exactly what this now award-winning short documentary tries to achieve.
Created by journalism graduate Harry Robinson, Mother’s Ruin: Unmasking the WMSCOG, started out as a final project for university and has now gone on to win both Best International Director at the Oregon Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Texas Short Film Festival, as well being awarded the Will Venters’ Memorial Prize by ITV News.
In less than half an hour, Robinson – with nothing more than his computer, a camera and some help from a fellow uni student – delivers a truly eye-opening exposé on a pseudo-religious group that claims to have more than three million followers across 170 different countries and yet somehow remains largely under the radar to most.
As well as sharing some seriously shocking stories and allegations from people who have left the church, or ‘escaped’ as many of them would put it, the 23-year-old also goes to confront WMSCOG on their own doorstep at a location right here in Manchester. Stretford, specifically.
The members who come to the door of the unassuming building on a small industrial park in Old Trafford decline the right to a reply and have no interest in speaking to him, even despite reading out a laundry list of accusations including coercion, mental manipulation and even encouraging members to get abortions.
Visiting former members and even WMSCOG deacons like Luke Biggs (pictured above) who still lives just a few miles away from their Manchester church, as well as cult survivor turned counsellor at the University of Salford Richard Turner, learning about how the group operates feels truly surreal at times.
The church has at least two locations here in the UK — one being in Manchester and the other in Epsom, Surrey — but its reach is thought to be truly massive even whilst remaining predominantly in the background and despite being a government-registered charity on Companies House.
Unsurprisingly, the documentary has had quite the reaction already, with Harry revealing to us and in the film itself that the insight into the church has helped many feel comfortable enough to come out and speak on their own struggles with religious organisations and groups some would consider ‘cults’.
As mentioned, it’s received some impressive critical acclaim for a student filmmaker too, who had to communicate with participants via secret emails and has an estimated 30+ hours of interview footage.
"𝙋𝙀𝙊𝙋𝙇𝙀 𝙒𝙀𝙍𝙀 𝙄𝙉 𝙎𝙃𝙊𝘾𝙆."
The early reviews for Mother's Ruin are more than I could ever hope for. 💙
I'm just ecstatic that the impact of these important stories are getting through, and I can't wait to hear more audience feedback. 🙌🔥
Robinson also received an award for his first film, The Real Black Sabbath (2022), which once again focuses on an alternative church.
Be it believing in the concept of ‘God the Mother’, i.e. the messiah reincarnated in the form of 80-year-old Zahng Gil-jahr, their deity who co-founded the church alongside the now deceased Ahn Sahng-hong (God the Father), or having predicted the world was going to end in 2012 like the Mayans, it’s quite staggering to hear what makes up WMSCOG’s belief system.
They have also been cited as having changed their core tenets and retconning claims within their own doctrine when certain predictions or practices haven’t gone quite as planned and gaslighting their followers into believing they were mistaken or simply ‘misinterpreted’ their teachings.
As explained by Robinson, several articles on WMSCOG’s controversies have been deleted and now simply display error messages, and even the original video he shared on a former member’s awareness site appealing for others to come forward with their experiences was removed for an ‘invasion of privacy’.
In fact, one of the few proper investigative articles still left standing was written up by none other than our very own University of Manchester’s The Mancunion.
Perhaps one of the most telling examples of how the World Mission Society Church of God has dealt with media attention in the past is demonstrated by the interview with Michele Colón, who spent a lengthy period in a fierce legal battle after the church tried to sue her for a genuinely staggering sum.
The group itself has actually been around in some form since 1964, starting out in South Korea and eventually going on to establish itself in Seoul as the Witnesses of Ahn Sahng-hong Church of God in the mid-80s, before rebranding once again as WMSCOG in 1997.
Nevertheless, knowledge of the church still remains very limited and after speaking to fellow University of Sheffield graduate and cinematographer for the documentary, Maddie James, she said the whole thing “felt outrageous” and “didn’t really believe it” until the pair arrived at the door to confront them.
“It felt like something out of a movie”, she continued, adding, “It got very serious and upsetting when we arrived at the location and I quickly began to realise how much it had impacted people”.
Maddie even told us how she believes he may have been approached by WMSCOG members handing out fliers when leaving the Arndale Centre not long after filming the documentary — a regular recruitment tactic according to ex-members. They are also said to approach young and impressionable students on university campuses.
We don’t want to spoil too much more about the documentary itself but all we can tell you is that within just a 24-minute run-time, Mother’s Ruin is probably one of the most fascinating watches you can put on whilst eating your tea or having a brew at the weekend.
You’ll quickly be putting your drink back down, mind, and won’t be able to resist digging further. How many other things can promise that kind of shock and intrigue in less than half an hour?
You can watch the Mother’s Ruin: Unmasking the WMSCOG in full for free down below.