Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Monday, 29 December 2008

Trump golf houses 'not on hold'

Donald Trump
Donald Trump plans to build 500 homes on the Menie Estate

Donald Trump's plans to build 500 homes at his Aberdeenshire golf resort have not been affected by the slowdown in the property market, his lawyer said.

George Sorial, who helped to steer the tycoon's resort at the Menie Estate through the planning process, said the housing would be the final phase.

Mr Sorial said the golf course and hotel remained "full speed ahead".

But he denied reports that the housing had been put on hold saying they were always going to be years off.

The US billionaire's golf resort plans were originally rejected by an Aberdeenshire Council committee before being "called in" by the Scottish Government.

Two years ago you couldn't find contractors to do the work. Now for the work we're doing we had 10 different offers
George Sorial

They were finally approved in November after a public inquiry.

Mr Sorial, who is Mr Trump's managing director of international development, said: "The way we envisage it is that the golf course is full speed ahead.

"With the golf comes a club house and maintenance facilities, then the hotel."

He said the homes were always going to be the final phase of the development and the schedule had "not been impacted" by the slowdown in the housing market.

Mr Sorial said it was always going to be four or five years before the homes could be built, with more negotiations needed with council planning authorities and the dualling of a section of the A90 required.

He said: "Markets will change. Whenever we have a cycle like this, a bad real estate market is followed by a period of rapid, aggressive growth.

"There is, and will be, a demand for homes."

The economic downturn has had other effects on the proposed project, Mr Sorial said.

He said the change in exchange rates between sterling and the US dollar had cut costs to the Trump Organisation.

"When the project started, 1 was worth almost two dollars", he said.

Now Mr Sorial predicts about 500,000 US dollars has been wiped off construction costs.

"Oil has plummeted. The price of raw materials has plummeted," he said.

"Two years ago you couldn't find contractors to do the work. Now for the work we're doing we had 10 different offers."

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