THE controversial extension to Seacourt Park and Ride will go ahead after the Government said it was happy for the city council to make the final decision on it.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told the city council, which proposed the plan and runs the park and ride, that work could go ahead yesterday.

Campaigners who spent a year opposing the expansion onto the green belt cried 'shame' when councillors approved the plan for the 685-space expansion in January.

It was the second time a planning committee had approved the proposal after councillors demanded it be looked at again, following initial approval in December 2017. 

Campaigners used worries over flooding and the potential impact on badgers as reasons for why the expansion should be rejected. 

Oxfordshire Badger Group accused the council of breaching national planning policy and its own planning strategy by saying that it needed to build on the green belt and flood plain. 

The city council wants to expand the park and ride, which has 794 spaces, to cope with extra demand caused by the reopening of the Westgate.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, the council's board member for planning and regulatory services, said: “I’m pleased that the Secretary of State [Sajid Javid] has seen no reason to question the grounds for the decision made independently by our planning committees. 

"Work on this much-needed capacity expansion of the city’s western park and ride facility can now commence.” 

No start date has been set.