Trump International remains “confident” that its plans for 500 new homes near Balmedie will be approved next month.
Earlier today, Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine Area Committee was asked for its views on the ‘hybrid’ planning application.
While the application centred around planning permission in principle for the eight-phase development, Trump International also submitted full detailed drawings and reports for an assessment of the first two phases.
After debate, councillors made a series of comments highlighting the fact that there were a range of differing views – some in support, some neutral and some not in support of the application – which will now be put before the April 25 meeting of the full council for a final decision.
A bid by Councillor Paul Johnston to call on the full council to reject the application failed to get a seconder.
However, councillors have now called for additional information to be made available at full council and raised concerns relating to the likes of access roads and transport planning policy – particularly with regards to increased traffic and construction traffic in Balmedie – the protection of trees and protected species, and access to local services as well as connectivity for residents.
Notwithstanding those concerns, Sarah Malone, executive vice-president at Trump International Golf Links, said she remained confident that the “hugely-detailed, high quality” development would get council backing next month.
She said the company was very pleased with the council officers’ report on what it felt was a “very important application” for the whole of the North-east.
But she expressed disappointment that the process had been caught up in the “extraneous detail” of the past.
She said: “There was a lot of discussion over transport and roads. These are arguments that were had, they were fought and they were won many, many years ago, so we’ve gone over a lot of old ground today.
“We have been caught up in extraneous detail, so I am sure the full council will treat it differently and we’re confident of a positive outcome.”
Asked whether she remained confident the scheme would progress, Ms Malone added: “I have to have faith in the council. This is a £150 million investment.
“It’s very much, absolutely in line with what we originally envisaged – a world-class destination and leisure facility with a residential component for people to come and live in a beautiful, rich, mature, historic site.”
And she remained confident that councillors would still support the current application, despite original plans for a major 450-bedroomed hotel having failed to materialise.
She commented: “We have completed successfully what we set out to do, which was to create a world-class championship golf course that’s recognised the world over.
“We are ranked in the top ten of the top fifty in the world which is an incredible achievement for a course of this age.
“We’ve just opened our eighth season at the Menie Estate, thousands of people come from across the globe and we’re immensely proud of that.”
The plans for the creation of 500 new homes at the Menie Estate are being recommended for approval despite planners admitting they are a “significant departure” from policy.
The proposal – which has attracted 2,918 objections and an 18,722-name petition against the development – would also see a minimum of 50 leisure resort units created alongside community facilities including a town hall and gym, shops, offices and food and drink outlets.
Councillors were reminded that as part of its original planning consent from the Scottish Government, Trump International’s housing proposal was granted in order to assist in funding the development of the golf resort, 50-bed hotel and 36 golf villas which was seen as a way to develop and diversify the economy of the north-east by promoting the tourism sector.
Subsequently, the housing was allocated in the Local Development Plan, but planners accept that had it not been part of the overall outline planning permission it is “unlikely” that it would have been allocated in the LDP as other sites would probably have been preferred by reason of being in more sustainable locations.
In report to committee the department stated: “It is recognised that the current application is a significant departure from the allocation in terms of the original phasing and Section 75 but meets the requirements of other key policies.”
Councillors also discussed the scope of the current phase in relation to the wider planning application, the Local Development Plan and the economic impact.
Formartine area chair, Councillor Isobel Davidson, said: “I think it’s important we summarise the range of views discussed today for full council, noting a number of concerns and questions which we hope can be addressed more fully at a later date.”