CONTROVERSIAL £3.5m work to extend Seacourt Park and Ride has been paused – but it is unclear when it stopped and when it will restart.

In papers, the council said it has stopped the work because it wants to get it 'right'.

The authority has said it is now ‘unlikely’ that work will restart before April.

The council announced it had started work extending the park and ride onto the green belt in July.

At the time, it was expected to take nine months.

The expansion is supposed to give the park and ride car park 1,579 spaces, up from a current 794.

Councillors on the authority’s west area planning committee gave the plan permission in December 2017 and again at a review committee in January.

Members of the public shouted ‘shame!’ and ‘you should resign!’ after those meetings, with critics raising concerns about flooding and wildlife worries.

The then housing, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid gave the project the go-ahead from the Government in March.

In city council documents, the authority’s finance panel is told in papers for a meeting on Thursday: “£3.217 million [of the project’s budget] is to be slipped, this is the remaining balance of funding.

"It is important to get the detail of this project right and it is unlikely that works will commence in this financial year.”

Before the application was approved, both of Oxford’s MPs, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Badger Group and Oxford Flood Alliance were opposed to any expansion.

Layla Moran, who represents Oxford West and Abingdon, and Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, said the project could create an unacceptable flood risk.

Ms Dodds said the work would mean ‘clear contravention with national policies... on appropriate development for the Green Belt and flood zones’ earlier this year.

Ms Moran said she had ‘serious concerns’ about the flood risk.

At the time, the city council said it took concerns about flood risks ‘extremely seriously’.

Last week, it was reported the city council had made errors in the way it dealt with a complaint over the park and ride’s extension.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said it found ‘evidence of fault’ in how the authority dealt with a resident’s suggestion over changes to the expansion and how it responded to his emails.

But the LGSCO found there was ‘no significant injustice’ because Adrian Rosser, of Botley Road, was able to address the planning committee and had a received an apology for the delays receiving emails.

In December 2017, the Oxfordshire Badger Group found the city council had spent more than £400,000 preparing and improving the planning application for the park and ride’s expansion.

The Oxford Mail asked the council when work stopped and when it would resume at the park and ride on Thursday but it did not reply with a satisfactory answer.

The city council's website notes about 30 spaces at Seacourt Park and Ride would be lost temporarily because of the work.

The council runs two other park and rides – at Redbridge, off Abingdon Road and at Pear Tree north of the city.

Redbridge Park and Ride has about 1,400 spaces, while Pear Tree has about 1,035.

Oxfordshire County Council runs two other park and rides, at Water Eaton and Thornhill, off the A40.

The county council plans to build more, including one in Cumnor, which would benefit from improved cycle links with Oxford as part of a £9m project.