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Scottish council approves Trump's housing plan

A SCOTTISH council has approved a £150 million (S$256 million) plan by US President Donald Trump's family business to build 550 houses at his golf resort north of Aberdeen, despite some local opposition.

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

Mr Trump announced the purchase of the 607-hectare 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.

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

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Aberdeen is struggling with a decline in the North Sea oil industry and the Scottish authorities hope the resort will help develop tourism. 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 Mr 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 Mr Trump to hold his property assets, the company's accounts show. REUTERS