Bulldozers have moved in to the location where Freddie Flintoff suffered his horror Top Gear crash in preparation for the site to be developed into a huge housing estate.
The former cricket player, 45, was driving an open-topped three-wheel 130mph Morgan Super 3 car for the motoring show in December last year when the vehicle flipped at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.
He was airlifted to hospital after suffering broken ribs and serious facial injuries and has been resting up since, cancelling his work commitments, with filming for the BBC series on hold.
In pictures obtained by The Sun, diggers are seen at the end of the airfield’s runway, with a new sustainable garden village with public open spaces and facilities set to be built.
An insider told the publication: ‘Allowing the site to be sold off is a damning statement for the series’ future.’
Sign of the times? Bulldozers have moved in to the location where Freddie Flintoff, 45, suffered his horror Top Gear crash at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey
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 (L-R: Top Gear hosts Freddie, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris)
New beginnings: 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)
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.
Around 2,600 new homes are set to be built along with a new school, community centre, an expanded business park and supporting infrastructure.
Plans for the development were first put in place in 2005 and they resistance has been fought off over the years.
The insider 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.
‘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.’
Dunsfold Aerodrome was built by the Canadian Army during World War Two and it was later used by British Aerospace, while a 1.75km figure-of-eight test track was created by Lotus for its Formula 1 team to use as a testing facility.
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
Recovery: Andrew was spotted with his face covered and wearing a bucket hat while in the passenger seat of his car while wife Rachael drove, in pictures published by The Sun (Andrew and Rachel pictured in 2019)
It has been used by Top Gear for the show’s main site since its relaunch in 2002. Filming at Dunsfold was stopped after Freddie’s crash.
It comes after Freddie was seen last month for the first time since his horror smash which left him seriously injured while filming Top Gear four months ago.
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 at the aerodrome.
He was left with broken ribs and serious facial injuries after the accident and has been resting up since, cancelling his work commitments.
But Andrew was spotted with his face covered and wearing a bucket hat while sitting in the passenger seat of his car while wife Rachael drove, in pictures published by The Sun on Sunday.
An onlooker told the publication: ‘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.’
On hold: Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC (pictured), said it would be ‘inappropriate’ to start filming Top gear while Freddie is in recovery
The ex-England cricket ace cheated death after he was involved in a smash on the Top Gear test track while filming the motoring TV programme at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.
He was airlifted to hospital in December last year after he flipped a three-wheel open-top Morgan Super 3. It was later said he was ‘lucky to be alive’ following the crash.
In March, the BBC announced that ‘under the circumstances’ they feel ‘it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time’ following an internal investigation into the accident.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) event on Thursday, chief content officer at the BBC Charlotte Moore was asked if the corporation is committed to Top Gear returning.
Charlotte 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.’
Details: The classic-look £43,000 British handmade vehicle, which is described as a ‘motorised tricycle’, does not have air bags, according to maker Morgan’s website
A statement from the BBC earlier this year said that there will be a health and safety review of the show, ‘in line with our procedures’ following the accident involving the former cricketer on December 13.
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.
A source told The Sun at the time: ‘Freddie is in hospital after a crash on Top Gear.
‘He was driving on the track as normal. He wasn’t going at high speeds – it was just an accident that could happen to anyone.
‘All the usual health and safety measures were in place for filming too.
‘Freddie was taken to hospital by air ambulance shortly afterwards.
‘His injuries are not life-threatening and he is receiving treatment.
‘Filming has been postponed for now and all anyone cares about is Freddie recovering.’
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.
On hold: Officials 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.’