For over a decade, Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, United Kingdom, has had the distinction of being considered by a worldwide audience the ultimate point of judgement for a vehicle’s performance: How well would it do in the hands of a trained racing driver, a man dressed from head to toe not only in full racing gear but full anonymity? One lap, one time, one question answered…that was the purpose of the TopGear Test Track, a Lotus-designed race course incorporated on Dunsfold’s asphalt that TopGear used from 2002 until the Angry Jeremy incident. Over the years it had seen many a lap and many a car…from Formula 1 stars and Hollywood types, super cars and exotics, to local politicians and everyday sleds.
The Dunsfold Aerodrome’s existence has been in jeopardy since 2006, when the owners of the aerodrome proposed new construction on the site as “an example of green and sustainable living”. The issue was further pushed along in 2007-08 when the owners decided to chase the Labour government’s “eco-town” status, which was denied because the housing figures were just over half of what was needed to constitute the minimum size of an eco-town. From that point on, the owners of the aerodrome chased down local government support up until the proposal was refused in 2009 by the Waverley borough council. At the same time the Dunsfold Park LTD. tried to retain their airport status, which has also met resistance through local councils, first being rejected in June 2011.
However, on December 14, 2016, the Joint Planning Committee of the Waverley borough council approved a “Hybrid Planning Application” that approved “a new settlement with residential development comprising of 1,800 new homes, space for new businesses, amenity space and supporting infrastructure.” What’s included in that approval? Two items that pretty much spell the end of the Top Gear Test Track:
1. “Removal of three runways.”
2. “Part Full application for the demolition of 8,209 sqm (square meter) of existing buildings and the retention of 36,692 sqm of existing buildings, for their future use for a specified purpose as defined by the Use Classes as specified in the schedule of buildings and their uses.”
Not much else to say, then, is there?