Top fear… no more! Fans are reassured Top Gear could still return as the show’s famous track will not be ripped up for a number of years, officials say – but ‘sustainable village’ project will eventually see part of it turn into parkland
- Work continues at Dunsfold Park which is transforming into a ‘garden village’
- Top Gear race track where Freddie Flintoff, 45, was injured remains ‘operational’
Top Gear fans were assured the programme could still be on track for a return after officials insisted there are no plans to rip up the legendary circuit just yet.
Viewers of the long-running show were put in a spin after photographs showed diggers beginning demolition works at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.
Work is currently underway for a huge housing development, around half a mile from where the Top Gear presenter suffered his horror crash which left him ‘physically and emotionally affected’.
The development is part of a 15-year long ‘sustainable garden village’ project which will see part of the race track turned into 200-acres of parkland within years.
Bulldozers moved in yesterday to start work on a new access road around 1km from the filming location where the ex-cricket player, 45, crashed in an open-topped three-wheel 130mph Morgan Super 3 car for the motoring show.
Work has got underway at the Dunsfold Park to build a new access road – part of a larger development which will see the land, including the track, eventually be developed into a garden village
Pictures show building works have begun at Dunsfold Park in Cranleigh, Surrey – with the bulldozers coming in yesterday
Freddie Flintoff, 45, suffered broken ribs and serious facial injuries during a horror Top Gear crash at the race track in Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, in December last year
Mr Flintoff suffered broken ribs and serious facial injuries when the vehicle flipped at the race track at near Cranleigh, Surrey, in December last year.
He has been resting ever since, cancelling his work commitments, with filming for the BBC series on hold – and has only been seen in public a handful of times.
Pictures showed diggers at the end of the airfield’s runway, where the new sustainable garden village with public open spaces and facilities is set to be built.
A spokeswoman for The Rutland Group, which is overseeing the development, told MailOnline: ‘We are creating a new access road onto the site and that is the construction you can see in the photos and has been ongoing since October.
‘The track is the opposite end of the site, continues to operate and will not be developed for some years.’
While the Top Gear track will eventually be built on, for the short term the track will remain exactly as it is – but there are plans to turn part of it into 200-acres of parkland.
The former cricket player was driving an open-topped three-wheel 130mph Morgan Super 3 car for the motoring show in December last year when the vehicle flipped (L-R: Top Gear hosts Freddie, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris)
A new sustainable garden village of about 2,600 homes with public open spaces and facilities set to be built (Dunsfold Aerodrome seen in 2017)
‘The track won’t be here indefinitely but it’s not going anywhere at the moment,’ the spokeswoman added.
Meanwhile, owners of the 600-acre site today urged motoring lovers to keep their cool saying construction workers are building a new access road to the complex.
In a message to fans Dunsfold Park, which owns the aerodrome, said on its official Facebook page: ‘Don’t panic! The track is not being dug up but doesn’t our new access road look great in the papers today.
Works to build a new access road are underway at Dunsfold Park in Cranleigh, Surrey. Pictured: May 16
Bulldozers were seen getting to work at Dunsfold Park on Tuesday morning
‘For those not familiar with the site, the track is the opposite end to the construction and one kilometre away.’
BBC insiders also insisted that the track – where Hollywood stars including Tom Cruise, Ryan Reynolds and Cameron Diaz have all raced – remains ‘fully intact and operation and will ‘likely to remain as such for a good few years yet’.
Around 2,600 new homes are set to be built along with a new school, community centre, an expanded business park and supporting infrastructure – amid plans to turn the largest brownfield site in Waverley into a ‘new Surrey village’.
Fears for the programme’s future were sparked after bosses put filming on hold while co-host Freddie Flintoff recovers from serious injuries following a 124mph crash at the Surrey raceway last December.
An insider yesterday told The Sun: ‘Dunsfold is synonymous with Top Gear, it’s a huge part of the show. But allowing the site to be sold off, is a damning statement for the series’ future.
Building works are underway at Dunsfold Park near Cranleigh, Surrey
Land at the 600-acre site is reportedly being dug up to lay pipes while the track which was regularly used by Top Gear to race cars is fenced off
‘There’s been mounting pressure for some years for the aerodrome site to be regenerated, but attempts have been resisted.
‘But after Freddie’s crash there’s a feeling that perhaps it’s time to put the show to bed and avoid any more potentially devastating crashes. It’s a real blow for fans.’
The famous racetrack has been used by Top Gear for the last two decades with the programme filmed from an old aircraft hanger on the site.
Actor Sir Michael Gambon had the last corner named in his honour after he damaged a Suzuki Liana there during the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge in December 2002.
A new access road is being laid down at Dunsfold Park near Cranleigh, in Surrey
A bulldozer is seen digging at Dunsfold Park near Cranleigh, Surrey this morning
The road has been cordoned off as building works is underway at Dunsfold Park
Aerial photos show developers have begun the first phase of works building a new access road and roundabout connecting it to the A281.
As the BBC does not own the race track, it has no authority over the development that but the Top Gear team has been assured the current work poses no immediate risk to production, should it resume.
The aerodrome, which has served as a primary filming location for Top Gear since 2002, was built by the Canadian army in World War Two and was later used by British Aerospace.
Dunsfold has also featured in James Bond film Casino Royale and video game Gran Turismo.
Local authority Waverley Borough Council said: ‘Temporary planning permission to allow for filming at Dunsfold Aerodrome was extended to cover the period from June 1, 2021 to June 1, 2024.’
Out and about: It comes after Freddie was been seen last month for the first time since his horror smash which left him seriously injured while filming Top Gear four months ago
Accident: The former cricket player was driving an open-topped three-wheel 130mph Morgan Super 3 car for the motoring show in December last year when the vehicle flipped
Following the crash, Mr Flintoff’ son Corey, 17, described the crash as ‘pretty nasty’, adding: ‘We are all shocked but just hope he’s going to be OK.’
He has not spoken publicly about his ordeal and was last seen in April when he was pictured in shades being driven by wife Rachael.
An onlooker told the Sun on Sunday: ‘He was reading something on his phone, and stayed in the car while Rachael popped into a shop.
‘It was good to see him out and about in public, and apparently doing well after what he has been through. He did look as though he had lost a bit of weight, though.’
He was left with broken ribs and serious facial injuries after the accident and has been resting up since, cancelling his work commitments.
There are fears that Flintoff’s other BBC projects could be shelved as he recovers from the crash which has left him ‘seriously emotionally and physically affected’.
Filming for a second series of Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams has reportedly been put on hold.
Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC (pictured), said in April that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to start filming Top gear while Freddie is in recovery
In March, the BBC axed its latest series of Top Gear after the crash which left Mr Flintoff ‘lucky to be alive’ – and now said to be unlikely to return to the show.
The 45-year-old reportedly said he’ was unable to continue in his role after he was involved in the accident.
READ MORE HERE: Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff ‘puts his TV career on hold after horror Top Gear car crash’
The BBC confirmed it had apologised to the presenter, adding that it ‘will continue to support’ Flintoff ‘with his recovery’.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) event in April, chief content officer at the BBC Charlotte Moore was asked if the corporation is committed to Top Gear returning.
Ms Moore said: ‘My priority at the moment is supporting Freddie through his recovery so I think it would be really inappropriate for us to resume filming now.
‘I think when we get to the point where he feels ready… and we’ll get to thinking about getting him back.’
She added: ‘I think we’ve got to talk about what Freddie wants to do. When someone’s in recovery, I don’t think we would push that… I think that would be really inappropriate, I wouldn’t be happy.
‘I think you’ve got to be really human about this and do the right thing.’
It is understood that a decision about resuming filming will be made later in the year.
The Morgan Motor Company was known for making three-wheel cars before the war before bringing them back into production in the 2000s.
Freddie became a presenter of Top Gear in 2019, and the former England captain was involved in a crash shortly after joining the BBC show.
The incident happened during a drag race involving fellow presenters Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris.
The BBC immediately suspended filming after the crash and began investigating the incident (L-R: Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness)
He subsequently said: ‘I go to great lengths to make sure I do well in Top Gear drag races but, on this occasion, I went a few lengths too far. It will look more ridiculous than dangerous when you see it on TV.’
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the BBC said at the time: ‘The health and safety of our presenters and crew on Top Gear is paramount.
‘As viewers of the recent series will have seen, Freddie is often keen to get “off the beaten track”.
‘Tuesday’s filming at Elvington Airfield was no exception – but he suffered no injuries as a result of his spontaneous detour, as fans will see for themselves when we show the sequence in full in the next series.’
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