Dunsfold Aerodrome could find itself getting turned into a residential neighborhood

The Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, England hold a soft spot in the hearts of Top Gear fans since the airfield has been the site of the test track that the show has been using since 2002. But all that could change after the BBC reported that a local council has approved plans to redevelop the Aerodrome and turn into a housing complex with 1,800 new homes expected to be built.

The votes were casted by the Waverly Borough Council and the majority won out in a 1,008-vote to redevelop the airfield with hopes of creating more jobs and adding more affordable homes in the area. The same BBC report indicates that the area around the Aerodrome is already home to over 100 businesses.

The runways, in particular, are also likely to be closed down and be redeveloped as a business park. That’s not good news for Top Gear as it could face the all-too real possibility of having to find a new test track for its show. Plans are still unclear on how the parties involved are going to move forward with their plans, but from the looks of things, we might have to say adieu to “Hammerhead” and “Gambon,” two of the more famous turns in the track.

Hopefully, producers of the long-running motoring show can find a way to preserve the track while the development of the residential project begins. But given the nature of what the local council in Surrey wants to built, it’s highly likely that Top Gear will have to find another test track for The Stig.

At the very least, you can add this new development to the array of changes that have befallen the once mighty auto show since the departures of stalwarts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Long-term effects could be a headache for the show

This is admittedly a bigger news than Top Gear potentially losing its test track. The BBC report even made no mention of the effects of this development on the show, so it begs wondering if the local community is even worried about losing the show’s test track as a tourist attraction. Personally, I don’t think it’s going to matter in the long run given the plans being laid out for the airfield.

Those proposals are still not completely ironed out, so I expect more discussions to happen in the coming months (or maybe even years?) before any concrete plans are going to be acted upon. So what does this mean for the show in the short term? Barring any interference from the local government, I think that Top Gear can keep using the airfield for the time being. How long that’s going to be is a different issue altogether, but that’s a problem that I think all parties concerned will table for a more appropriate day.

Ultimately, if the plans to turn the airfield into a housing development pushes through, the show will likely be forced to find a new test track, something that’s going have a lot of consequences beyond the nostalgia that comes with losing the same facility it’s been using to drive cars around for the last 14 years. The bigger issue is “experimental control,” which means that all of the cars that go to Top Gear are driven by the same driver on the same track to maintain that control and not subject the lap times to different variables. Losing the track that the show has used for 14 years would throw all of those lap times in disarray.

It’s going to be nearly impossible for the show to bring all of the cars it has tested all this time to do another lap around whatever new track it finds so that’s the bigger issue the show is going to face if this development pushes through.

Source: BBC

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