LEADING councillors are in a race against time to challenge the contentious planning approval for expanding Seacourt Park and Ride.

Lord Mayor of Oxford Jean Fooks and others on the West Area Planning Committee have said they want to ‘call in’ Tuesday night’s decision, where they were narrowly outvoted.

The 685-space extension of the Botley Road car park, designed by council officers, was approved by committee chairwoman Louise Upton after a 4-4 voting deadlock.

Mrs Fooks and Colin Cook, who also spoke against the application on Tuesday, now need 10 other councillors to call the decision in to the planning review committee.

But they will only have 48 hours to get the 12 'signatures' from the point the decision is officially published online today or tomorrow.

Mrs Fooks, who on Tuesday ridiculed officers’ argument that the car park needed to be expanded because it was frequently full, said yesterday: “The vote was sufficiently close that it needs to be reviewed – and I suspect it won’t be a problem getting the 10 other councillors.

“This time it will be really important that the review committee has a site visit, which we didn’t have the benefit of.”

Mr Cook, who gave an impassioned speech against the proposal on Tuesday, started calling fellow councillors to back the call-in last night.

Speaking at the meeting, he lambasted council’s officers for trying to expand the car park on the same land where a smaller expansion was refused by government in 1999.

He told the officers: “Eighteen years and you go back to the same failed application site.

"Come on guys, after 18 years we really ought to be raising our game. As a public body we really want to be finding better solutions to our parking issues than putting five acres of green belt under block paving.”

The other councillors who voted against the plan on Tuesday were Liz Wade and Dan Iley-Williamson.

They said it breached National Planning Policy Framework on building on the floodplain and green belt because there were not ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Those in favour were Louise Upton, Marie Tidball, Susan Brown and Jamila Begum Azad.

Susan Brown, who was sitting in for city council leader Bob Price, is the partner of councillor Alex Hollingsworth who has led the Seacourt expansion plans.

Julia Hammett of Oxfordshire Badger Group said after the decision: “It’s a mockery of democracy and it is going to make the council look very foolish indeed.”

Liz Sawyer of Oxford Flood Alliance, who spoke vociferously against the proposal at the meeting, said afterwards the decision was ‘outrageous’.

Oxford City Council has already spent more than £411,000 drawing up plans to expand the 794-space car park 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’.