WORK to extend Seacourt Park and Ride into the floodplain will begin next month and could take about nine months to complete.

The controversial project to create a further 685 spaces in the facility off Botley Road was approved at the end last year despite vociferous objections.

Site clearance work could now begin on August 1 and Oxford City Council said the initial programme could last 40 weeks.

It will also be phased to support the construction of the £120m Oxford flood relief channel to the south and west of the site.

City board member for planning Alex Hollingsworth said: “The current Seacourt Park and Ride is filling up on most days and demand is predicted to rise further.

“The extension to the car park will help to prevent traffic and congestion levels rising on the Botley Road and into the city centre.”

The expansion plan was referred to the Government earlier this year as it involved development in the Green Belt and the floodplain – both contrary to planning policy.

Shaun Hatton, head of operations at Oxford Direct Services, which will take on the project, said: “We have a long, proven track record and our highly skilled, experienced, staff, having previously provided services to the Oxford Universities and colleges, Oxfordshire County Council, local hospitals and other organisations as well as the city council.

“We’re aiming to get the job done on time and with the minimum amount of disruption to residents and park and ride users.”