THE controversial Seacourt Park and Ride expansion would already have been closed for three weeks this year if it had opened on January 1, flood campaigners have claimed.

Oxford Flood Alliance criticised the council-led scheme at its annual meeting earlier this week ahead of a crunch meeting with officers today.

It said heavy rainfall in January and earlier this month left the area earmarked for the car park underwater.

The £4m scheme for a 685-space extension to built in the field next to the park and ride off Botley Road was narrowly approved earlier this year - with the council citing the Westgate Centre as a major reason for it.

Group member Peter Rawcliffe said: “I don’t think the council understands what it’s letting itself in for.

“It’s going to be a very expensive mistake.

“There are risks to vehicles and risks to people - it may even be difficult for the council to insure the site against such risks.

“The Westgate Centre hasn’t produced the problems that were anticipated and almost all the time there are spaces in the existing [Seacourt] car park.

“The public should be irate with this £4m scheme - it’s not a very sensible place to build anything, let alone a car park.”

He urged people to keep pressing the council on the issues and hoped it might change its mind.

Group member Simon Collings said flooding in January and several times in April meant the car park would have already been closed for three weeks this year.

The Osney Island man said the city council had ignored the fact the site flooded from groundwater and hoped to finally get answers at the meeting today.

Executive director at the city council, Tim Sadler, said: “Surface water will be drained via a porous surface to the car park into an attenuation tank, which will then feed to a swale north of the site and, finally, into Seacourt Stream. It’s been designed to drain at the same rate as the greenfield, to avoid overburdening the stream.”

“We believe that the scheme as designed will lead to less water standing on the site as the drainage situation will be improved.”

He added: “This has been a rigorous process, with two independent planning committees and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government having considered the planning application.

“The surface drainage strategy, which also takes into account ground and river flooding issues, was designed in conjunction with the Environment Agency and lead local flooding authority.

“Both were consulted on the proposals and neither has raised objections.”