The ‘cunning plan’ to repaint Redbridge Park and Ride and create more spaces should be replicated at Seacourt to save £4m and protect the Green Belt, say campaigners.

A new recycling station will be built over 270 spaces at Redbridge but none will be lost due to a ‘reconfiguration’ – a repainting operation to fit more spaces into the current area.

Conservationists called for the same ‘magical increase’ to be found at other parking sites instead of pressing ahead with the £4m plan to expand Seacourt Park and Ride into the Green Belt.

But Oxford City Council insisted figures on the car parks’ use showed the 650 extra spaces were badly needed at Seacourt.

Linda Ward, from Oxfordshire Badger Group, said: “The council’s cunning plan to maintain capacity at Redbridge is that they will make room for the waste disposal plant by re-drawing the parking bays.

“The same magical increase in capacity at the other Park & Rides would create 700 spaces.

“It should not spend more than £4.1 million on ruining the Green Belt at Botley.”

According to data Seacourt Park and Ride was regularly at full capacity from April to August this year - before the Westgate Centre opening.

Redbridge, however, was never more than 79 per cent full over an average month in the same period.

The figures follow the city council’s claims that the extra spaces must be created at Seacourt due to traffic coming to the city from the west.

The new recycling transfer station at Redbridge will enable material to be stored on site before being sent off in bulk for recycling.

Currently the closest transfer station is in Culham - a 20-mile round trip for council workers to go with residents’ recycling.

The city council’s board member for a Clean and Green Oxford, John Tanner, said: “These proposals involved a revamp of a little-used section of Redbridge Park and Ride and will not result in the loss of any existing parking spaces.

“The recycling transfer station will store recyclable material before it is bulked and sent off for recycling.

“Owning a recycling transfer station in the city will make the council’s collection service more efficient as less time will be spent on tipping runs. On top of that, it will reduce vehicle emissions.”

The council is expected to submit an application for Redbridge to itself - as the planning authority - and a formal consultation will take place in the new year.

The proposals to expand Seacourt Park and Ride could be approved next week, but may be deferred to the Secretary of State.

Yesterday, it was revealed the council have spent £411,000 on the Seacourt application so far.