Sadly, this is not a late April Fool's joke.
According to The Sun, the iconic Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome will be bulldozed to make way for a new 1,800-unit housing project. This is not the first time we heard about a desire for the track’s destruction, but it now seems the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has officially signed off on the project. In addition to the new homes, the site could also feature shops, schools and churches. The leader of local council, Julia Potts, stated the following:
"I am delighted that the Secretary of State has granted planning permission as this development will provide significant benefits to the local community, of the 1800 new homes 540 will be affordable. The development will also create over 1,000 new jobs and secure substantial financial contributions for much-needed infrastructure." We’re not making this up. And yes, this is sad news for Top Gear fans, including this writer who was privileged to do a few hot laps with current TG host Chris Harris last year. The track has been in use since 2001 when Top Gear was revitalized. So, where will the current trio of hosts and the Stig go for their test laps?
BBC sources don’t appear to be worried. Remember, former hosts Clarkson, Hammond and May found a new test track for The Grand Tour. It’s not only Top Gear fans who are outraged by this, but also many UK World War II history buffs. They’re pointing out that, at one time, the UK had over 250 airfields at the end of WWII, many of which went on to become motoring venues, such as Dunsfold. And like Dunsfold’s future, many of those re-purposed airfields have become housing developments as well. No exact timetable for Dunsfold’s closure has been given, but its fate has been decided.