Councillors have paved the way for a summer opening of the Trump International Golf Links at Menie Estate, after plans were approved on Tuesday to allow a temporary clubhouse and 140 space car park to be built.
Members of the Formartine Area Committee followed the recommendation of officials and backed the plans, which will allow the Trump Organisation to put a temporary clubhouse in place for up to three years while plans progress for a permanent building.
Afterwards, the decision was welcomed by Trump Executive Vice President Sarah Malone, who said that the decision would allow for the course opening to proceed as planned. Describing the organisation as ‘pleased’ with the decision to approve both applications, she said: “We are making excellent progress on site and now have all the necessary components for opening next year. Tee-time reservations will reach over 3,000 players by the end of this week and hundreds of gift certificates have been sold on the lead-up to Christmas.”
However, the decision was described afterwards by local resident David Milne as being disappointing but not surprising. “I’m sorry that councillors have rubber stamped the budget option here and taken the easy way out”, he said.
The meeting was addressed by former Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, acting on behalf of the Trump organisation, who said that the development was one of which Aberdeenshire and Scotland could be proud. Dealing with a number of points raised by objectors, he urged approval on the grounds that without the temporary facilities, the course would go largely unplayed.
He was followed by Mr Milne, who described the drainage plans as ‘deeply flawed’, and warned of the likely nuisance of lighting at the proposed car park. He also criticised sharply the clubhouse design, describing it as looking like a “shipping cargo container” - something which he claimed showed a lack of confidence in the project which should be considered material.
Despite his concerns over the building being echoed by Councillors Storr and Johnston, their view was dismissed by Cllr Jim Gifford, who expressed the view that as a commercial venture, no sensible business would put in facilities which their customers would regard as being sub-standard.
Worries were also expressed over the car park, which is designed to serve both the temporary clubhouse and the permanent clubhouse once built, and the likely impact it would have on the neighbouring properties at Leyton Cottages.
The vote to reject the clubhouse plans was defeated by 9 votes to 2, with Councillors Storr and Johnston against. A motion by Cllr Davidson to reject the car park was defeated 8-3.