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Art of the deal: Contract sealed on Trump plans for hundreds of homes near Aberdeenshire golf course

MacLeod Square, part of the first phase of the Trump International housing development at Menie, near Balmedie.
MacLeod Square, part of the first phase of the Trump International housing development at Menie, near Balmedie.

Donald Trump’s much-protested plans to build hundreds of homes near his Aberdeenshire golf course have taken a big step forward.

The former US president’s lawyers have battered out a deal with the council on how much Trump International will have to pay to build as many as 500 houses and 50 holiday homes on the Menie Estate, near Balmedie.

For the first 77 homes, £770,000 will be paid towards affordable housing in the Ellon area. That total will increase by £10,000 for each extra home added as the work goes on.

It’s more than two years since councillors voted through the £150 million proposals, despite thousands of objections.

Detailed plans for the first 82 homes were approved at that time, with the principle of another 418 agreed as well.

A legal contract has now been agreed, setting out the 28 conditions Trump International must meet before spades can break ground.

It was signed on December 6 by Donald Trump Jr in Jupiter, Florida.

Menie Estate homes linked to allegations Donald Trump faces in US courts

The news follows allegations lodged with US courts last month, that his father, the former president Donald Trump, had filed “misleading” valuations of his north-east assets to obtain loans, insurance and tax deductions.

Donald Trump views developments to his luxury golf resort during a visit to the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire in 2011. Picture by PA.
Donald Trump views developments to his luxury golf resort during a visit to the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire in 2011. Picture by PA.

Papers lodged with the Supreme Court of the State of New York allege a 2014 valuation of Menie at $435.56m (approximately £321.18mh) was based on 2,500 unapproved homes being built at the coastal site.

The Trump Organisation told The P&J the allegations were “baseless”.

The approved 500 homes now to be built at Menie will also include shops and potentially a community hall and sports pitch.

When the 423 will be built after the first 77 in phase one are put up is yet to be agreed.

Prior plans for a 450-bed hotel at Trump’s Menie Estate would have been a ‘costly mistake’

But, the original 2008 designs promised to be “transformational” and included a 450-bed, eight-storey hotel.

Change in the north-east economy was blamed for the scaled-down version of the plans, including the 50 holiday units.

In September 2019, Trump International Scotland vice-president Sarah Malone said sticking to the grand plans would have been a “costly mistake”.

Sarah Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International Scotland, speaks to P&J reporter Kieran Beattie in 2019, after the plans were approved. Picture by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Sarah Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International Scotland, speaks to the press in 2019, after the plans were approved. Picture by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

“We are world leaders when it comes to building five-star hotels and if there was a market to build a 450-bedroom hotel, we would be the first ones to do it,” she told councillors.

A total of 2,918 objections were lodged against the proposals, citing concern for the development’s potential impact on the nearby town of Balmedie, as well as the local natural environment, infrastructure and schools.

Despite this, the plans were deemed acceptable and councillors were recommended to approve them.

Within a week nearly 500 people had registered interest in the development, according to Trump’s agents Aberdein Considine.

Not all 500 homes have been rubber-stamped for Trump International

Detailed plans will still need to be submitted for the future batches of housing before building can start.

As well as designs, that will include outlining measures to make the homes environmentally friendly, surveys of surrounding wildlife and plans for protecting trees and planting new ones.

The council is also demanding fleshed-out proposals for the phased construction of all of the development before any of it can be built in order to “retain control”.

Aberdeenshire’s lawyers have also made it explicitly clear that the 50 golf villas can only be used as holiday homes – and spelled out that this could be policed by the council at any time to ensure they are not being used as permanent homes.

The extra economic benefit of tourists coming to the area would be “undermined” by doing so, council chiefs said.

If Trump International decides not to build community facilities, thousands more could be due to Aberdeenshire on top of cash for the expansion of local schools, Ellon health centre and council waste services.

Trump at Menie: The untold tales of intrigue, threats of violence and destroyed friendships

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