CONDEMNED by critics as looking like a Victorian asylum, it has already been handed the Zit Award for Scotland’s worst building – before a single brick has been laid.
Nonetheless Donald Trump’s controversial plans for the clubhouse at his £750 million golf resort are set to be approved by Aberdeenshire councillors.
The plans for the sprawling, single-storey building, constructed from Scottish granite and slate, sparked a storm of controversy when the designs for the 19th hole at the Menie championship links were first unveiled last October.
The mock Gothic structure, designed by Huntly-based Acanthus architects, was praised by Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), but branded an “ugly monstrosity” by opponents of the Trump development and given the Zit Award last year by Urban Realm Magazine.
Senior planners at Aberdeenshire Council, however, are recommending the plans for the new clubhouse be approved at next Tuesday’s meeting of the local planning authority, the Formartine area committee, despite many objections.
A report to councillors reveals more than 800 letters of objection have been lodged with the council, raising concerns about the scale of the building and the clubhouse design. One of the objectors is David Milne, a Menie estate resident and leading opponent of the development.
In his letter to the council, he states: “This design is unsympathetic to its environs, is ugly and bears more vernacular similarities with Craiginches prison in Aberdeen than with Menie House [the historic mansion on the estate].
“The current design of this structure is such that it would have a significant negative effect on the visual amenity of the area, which has already been despoiled by the construction of a green desert over an area which previously included a site of special scientific interest.”
But Robert Gray, the council’s head of planning and building standards, has recommended approval. In his report to the area committee, he said: “The scale, design and proposed materials of the clubhouse are considered appropriate for this location.
“In terms of scale the clubhouse is approximately 1,486 square metres and, whilst a relatively large building, it will fit successfully into this relatively open landscape, to provide adequate accommodation to serve two golf courses when the full resort has been completed.
“There are no material considerations which would otherwise render the development unacceptable.”
Sarah Malone, executive vice-president for Trump International Scotland, said: “We’ve received great feedback from leading architects and critics including Neil Baxter, secretary of the RIAS, who commended our approach. Our clubhouses and properties win global awards for being the best and are loved by guests and members. We’ll build a great clubhouse in Scotland.”