Monday, June 15, 2009

Top Gear Test Track Under Threat From Housing Development


THE HAMMERHEAD, Gambon Corner, the Follow-Through. To many armchair enthusiasts those names describe hallowed ground, Top Gear’s test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, England.

The TG test track has become the unofficial arbiter of supercar performance, so much so that while Nurburgring lap times continue to be viewed with skepticism (the Nissan GT-R’s in particular), Top Gear’s ‘Power Laps’ are seen as being the ultimate yardstick for sports cars.

But the TG test track may soon be no more. A housing development planned for the site by its owner, the Rutland Group, may see the entire airfield levelled and replaced with 2600 homes, destroying Top Gear’s circuit in the process.


The proposed development, above, was denied approval by the local council late last year, however residents in the area surrounding the former military airfield fear that the British Government may actively seek to push the Dunsfold Park project through.

The government holds a 70 percent stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which it bailed out during last year’s financial crisis. The bank has extended a £44 million line of credit to the Rutland Group, and the concern is that the government may be tempted to give preferential treatment to Rutland in order to ensure a return on the RBS loan.

Top Gear’s home won’t be bulldozed just yet, though. Rutland has appealed against the local council’s decision to can the Dunsfold Park development and the final judgement on the company’s appeal will be made in September.

Whether that decision works in favour of Top Gear or not, we’re willing to bet that the likes of Hammond, May and Clarkson will be busy laying down as much rubber on the Cold War-era airfield as they possibly can - while they still can.