PLANS to expand Seacourt Park & Ride will be thrown out by government even if they are approved tonight, Oxford Flood Alliance has warned.

Chairman Peter Rawcliffe said whatever decision Oxford City Council’s West Area Planning Committee makes this evening, the expansion will not be allowed.

In a last-ditch attempt to derail the project, Mr Rawcliffe’s group has carried out usage surveys of the Botley Road car park which they say prove it is simply not full most of the time as the council has always argued.

Having analysed the council’s own online usage figures over two week days and two weekend days this month, Mr Rawcliffe said: “This car park is never full.

“The peak time for all park and ride sites across Oxford tends to be 2pm and even then there are still hundreds, if not thousands of spaces, including some at Seacourt.

“The reason people don’t park there is because they don’t want to: the car parks that get full are in the city centre, and if you expand Seacourt people will still drive past it.”

After more than a year leading the fight on grounds the plan would harm the Oxford Green Belt and increase flood risk, Mr Rawcliffe’s group has now attempted to undermine the city’s council’s most fundamental case for expanding Seacourt.

Mr Rawcliffe added: "The committee is waiting their time on this: they may pass it tonight but it will be referred to the Secretary of State and, because of the national precedent it would set of building in the flood plain, it will be refused.

"We want to get the message to the committee that the council will end up losing money on this because of maintenance and because people won’t use it."

Oxford City Council has already spent more than £411,000 drawing up plans to expand the 794-space car park with a 685-space extension on the 4.3ha field which it owns immediately to the east.

The council says the £4m expansion is essential as 'Botley Road has serious traffic congestion', and Seacourt is 'often completely full, with regular complaints from users'.

Board member for planning Alex Hollingsworth said: "“The Council recognises that this planning application is contentious and is contrary to some aspects of guidance, but there are exceptional circumstances that underpin it.

"With the new Westgate now open and bringing additional people into the city centre as well as the predicted growth of employment and population numbers across Oxford, there is a compelling and urgent need to expand the park and ride to counteract increases in traffic levels on the Botley Road. Oxford City Council cannot wait for the county council to build another park and ride further out at some unknown point in the future; it needs to take action to tackle the congestion now."

Oxford City Council’s West Area Planning Committee will meet in the Assembly Room at Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates, from 6pm tonight.