Scottish council approves $185 million Trump housing plan

(Reuters) – A Scottish council has approved a 150 million pound ($185 million) plan by U.S. President Donald Trump’s family business to build 550 houses at his golf resort north of Aberdeen, despite some local opposition.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a news conference on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The approval paves the way for the Trump Organization to move ahead with one of its largest investments since Trump took office.

Sarah Malone, Executive Vice President, Trump International Scotland said the decision was “fantastic news” for the business.

“It was clear from today’s debate that Aberdeenshire Council recognizes the importance of Trump International and the significant investment these new plans represents,” she added.

Trump announced the purchase of the 1,500-acre Menie Estate in 2006 and said he planned to create a two-course resort with a 450-room luxury hotel and other tourist facilities.

He built one course, which is loss-making, but Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd said there was no longer market demand for a large five-star hotel.

The company sought planning permission instead for 50 rental cottages and to build 500 houses for sale, the proceeds of which could help fund the next stage of the resort expansion.

Opponents had argued that Trump should be forced to stick to the original planning permission that required him to develop the tourist facilities before building houses, which real estate industry players said would likely yield higher profits.

The vote by the council on Thursday to back the application is a victory for Trump, who bought the land at Balmedie cheaply because it was largely zoned for agricultural use.

Aberdeen is struggling with a decline in the North Sea oil industry and Scottish authorities hope the resort will help develop tourism in the area.

Aberdeenshire Council said it had received 2,921 valid representations from the public about the housing plan, 2,918 of which were objections while three supported the application.

One councillor said opposition to the plan was motivated partly by hostility to Trump’s presidency, but other councillors denied this.

Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd is ultimately owned by the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, an entity created by Trump to hold his property assets, the company’s accounts show.

Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Kate Holton, Stephen Addison and Alex Richardson

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