'Home of Top Gear' loses flights legal fight

The Stig at Dunsfold Park aerodrome
Image caption The Stig uses the aerodrome to test cars for Top Gear

The owners of Dunsfold Park aerodrome, which is home to the BBC's Top Gear, have lost their latest fight for unrestricted flying.

The aerodrome's owners had claimed that "permanent unrestricted planning permission" was granted in 1951.

However, this was rejected by Waverley Borough Council in July 2011 and the planning inspector in April 2012.

A judge at the High Court said the 1951 permission did not grant permission for unrestricted flying.

Lord Justice Sullivan said the permission for "flight testing" did not amount to consent for unrestricted flying of aircraft.

'No doubt'

He said the certificate sought by the owners was pursued on the alleged basis that there was no material difference, in land use terms, between unrestricted numbers of passenger or cargo flights, and flight testing.

He said: "The use of land as a bus station is not the same thing as use of land for the testing of buses."

He added: "There can be no doubt that, properly construed, the 1951 planning permission does not permit the airfield to be used for unrestricted aviation activities."

Dunsfold Park was constructed during World War Two by the Canadian Army. It is now used by about 100 commercial operators and most famously as the venue for the filming of Top Gear.

The owners have the right to appeal the latest decision to the Supreme Court.

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