Trump resort chief denies plan to build 500 homes is on hold

THE executive in charge of Donald Trump's £1 billion golf resort development in Scotland yesterday strenuously denied claims that the housing element of the massive scheme had been put on hold because of the global credit crunch.

George Sorial said that if anything, the fluctuations in the exchange rates as a result of the world financial crisis had made the Menie estate development an even more attractive project than it was a year ago.

Mr Sorial, managing director for international development for the Trump Organisation, said reports that the organisation had decided to postpone its plans to build 500 luxury homes at Menie because of the slowdown in the property market were "inaccurate".

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The project had always been viewed as a phased project, in which the residential element of the scheme would be the last to be completed, he said.

The phasing of the residential scheme was tied to the need to open the proposed new Balmedie to Tipperty dual carriageway upgrade of the A90 and the construction of an additional grade separated junction north of Balmedie.

Mr Sorial said: "The residential component will not occur for several years. That is nothing new. That is how it was originally contemplated by ourselves and Aberdeenshire Council.

"There is no change in that. It has nothing to do with the credit crunch. It relates to the dualling of the A90. Our agreement with the council is that the road will be dualled and that will avoid any traffic issues created by our development."

He added that the dramatic fluctuations in the exchange rates between sterling and the US dollar had also made the overall project more attractive then ever before.

"On the exchange rate alone you are looking at savings for us of over $500 million," Mr Sorial said.

"The cost of raw materials has plummeted and there is also a surplus of labour. In terms of actual building it is a much more favourable climate for us now obviously than a year ago. It is lot cheaper to do the same job than a year ago."