Aberdeenshire Council has approved lthe Trump organisation’s plans for a 550-home development that attracted almost 3,000 objections.
The decision to grant approval for the next eight ‘chapters’ of the development across 85 hectares of the Menie estate was taken at a full meeting of the council, with councillors voting 38-24 in favour of the plans.
The development by Trump International Golf Links will see the construction of 500 homes and 50 holiday cottages alongside community facilities, shops, offices, food and drink outlets, landscaping and supporting infrastructure.
Aberdeenshire Council’s planning manager Mairi Stewart described the hybrid proposals as a “long term investement” by the applicant. She reminded councillors that approval of the original application called-in by the Scottish Government Reporter back in 2008 was for the completed construction of a five-star hotel prior to the development of any housing.
While accepting the latest proposals were “a week substitute” for the original development, Stewart said the applicant maintained that the hotel option was “no longer economically viable” and an economic impact assessment submitted for Phase 2 of the development had illustrated hugely-different market prospects compared to those a decade ago.
The current application has attracted just under 3,000 objections and a petition bearing 18,722 names. The council’s business development executive said that the proposal would lead to an increase in direct and indirect job opportunities and diversified local economic growth.
Councillors were told that, while it was recognised that the current application was a significant departure from the allocation in terms of the original phasing and Section 75 agreement, it did meet the requirements of local and national policies.
Representatives for Trump International Golf Links said that the area was experiencing a glut of conventional hotel accommodation, which the original proposal would only exacerbate. They said that the current proposals would expand opportunities in terms of wider tourism accommodation potential. The company confirmed that it was committed to a Phase 3 in the future.
Councillor Jim Gifford, the council’s leader, said that while he was disappointed that there would be no five-star hotel on the estate, he fully accepted that there was currently “huge over-capacity” in the city and shire and said it was now “unrealistic” to expect a hotel to be built.
Councillor Richard Thomson, speaking on behalf of the Opposition Partnership, moved that the application be refused and that the applicant be invited to return with an improved proposal. He said the applicant had promised something transformational but had not delivered.