The Trump organisation has threatened to walk away from further investment in the north-east if its £150 million housing plans are rejected by planners.
Legal representatives for the organisation warned councillors there is “no choice” if they do not grant permission in principle for the Menie Estate at a public hearing last night.
Aberdeenshire Council invited the developer and opponents to the meeting at Ellon Academy last night to allow councillors to hear both the arguments in favour and against the Trump Estate.
An application to build the scheme was first revealed in July. It includes proposals for 50 cottages and luxury housing close to the course, near Balmedie.
But campaigners argue that the developer is reneging on the original first phase of plans for the estate, which would have included a hotel and second golf course as well as holiday accommodation, and is now trying to push forward with a housing development which will have minimal economic benefit for the region.
The meeting followed a visit to the site by members of the Formartine area committee in the afternoon.
Anne Faulds, a planning lawyer for firm CMS, spoke on behalf of the developer and said that circumstances had changed since the development was first given tacit approval in 2008, due to the global banking crisis and the recent oil and gas downturn.
She issued an ultimatum to all gathered at the meeting and bemoaned the treatment the developer has faced.
“The changes in the economic climate have meant the phasing initially agreed is not economically viable,” she said.
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“There is not a choice between this proposal or the one agreed in 2008, it’s a choice between this or nothing.
“We are criticised for not developing soon enough and now we are criticised for trying to develop.”
The development would also include a gym, equestrian centre and space for shops and offices.
The organisation has previously predicted the scheme could create 2,000 construction jobs, almost 300 full-time posts and be worth £250 million to the region’s economy.
However, soon after the plans were made public they drew criticism, with more than 3,000 official letters of objection submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.
Five campaigners spoke at the meeting and claimed the revised plan was the latest in a series of “broken promises” since the golf course was approved.
Menie resident David Milne, who has battled with the Trump organisation for more than a decade, urged councillors to reject the plans.
He said the Trump brand had been badly damaged and would bring negative attention to the region.
And he also raised doubts over the developer’s claims about the economic benefits, branding them as “nothing more than a list of hopes and dreams without substance”.
Meanwhile, Rohan Beyts also made an impassioned plea to councillors to dismiss the application.
She said: “Whether you support this development or not, there’s no way that a housing scheme is of national importance.
“It will deliver a sixth of the jobs that were promised in the original plan.
“This is nothing more than an attempt to get the maximum benefit to the developer with minimum benefit for the local area.”
Bill Harrison, Robert Menlove and Valerie Banks also spoke, sharing many of the same concerns and also highlighting the impact the development would have on the surrounding roads and natural landscape.
A decision will be taken on the plans by full council in March.