Trump faces call to justify resort land buying powers

US tycoon Donald Trump must prove that land he is seeking for his £1 billion golf resort is vital for a compulsory purchase order (CPO), according to a legal expert.

Brodies planning partner Karen Hamilton made the comment in response to Aberdeenshire Council's refusal to block the use of CPO powers to enable Trump to buy four privately owned plots at the Menie Estate for the luxury resort.

"The Trump Organisation will have to demonstrate that this land is actually needed for the scheme. If the land lies at the edges of the site, it might be less likely to win a CPO approval," she asserted. However, the planning consent for the extra land granted by the council last month would support Trump's case, she added.

The organisation initially asked the council to use a CPO to secure the land, but has since requested that this action be postponed to allow it more time to pursue negotiations with the four private homeowners involved.

The company is reported to have offered 15 per cent over the market value for the plots and the opportunity to purchase one of the new properties at cost price, as well as a lifetime membership of the facilities.

But the homeowners are yet to be convinced by the proposition. A 15,000-signature petition supporting their case was handed to the council last week ahead of its meeting to consider the use of CPOs.

Members decided that it was inappropriate to reject the use of such powers without a detailed report. While voicing their sympathy for the residents, several councillors said blocking any discussion of CPOs at Menie could carry implications for future schemes including schools, libraries and other infrastructure.

However, Martin Ford, who tabled the motion, labelled this a "fudge". He argued that backing his proposal would provide residents with peace of mind. Ford was defeated by 55 votes to six, with four abstentions and one declaration of interest.

Hamilton supported the council's decision: "It would have been difficult to agree to the motion before any formal request for a CPO was made because it would have to consider the merits of that particular request."

She added: "If the Trump Organisation is to seek a CPO, the company will have to prove to the council that this move is a last resort and that all other avenues have been explored."

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