A LONG-delayed extension to an Oxford Park and Ride will be complete this month, after setbacks due to flooding and Brexit.

Works to the Seacourt Park and Ride extension began in 2019, with a budget of £5.2m.

A year-and-a-half later, the 595-space expansion is finally due to open on April 12, with a reported final budget of £5.4m.

However, one councillor has described the extension as a ‘white elephant’ and questioned whether it ever needed to be built.

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Oxford City Council, which is responsible for the controversial project, said two major issues had caused setbacks.

The first of these was winter flooding, which has left workmen unable to carry out construction to the site in the winter of 2019 and winter 2020.

The second, and more damaging problem, has been the impact of Brexit on getting construction materials into the UK.

Seacourt Park and Ride extension is due to open on April 12. Picture: Pete Hughes

Seacourt Park and Ride extension is due to open on April 12. Picture: Pete Hughes

Lamp posts needed for the expansion were delayed from entering the UK due to red tape caused by the country’s exit from the European Union.

A city council spokesman said: “The Seacourt Park and Ride extension will become operational from April 12, and will provide 595 additional parking spaces to meet the future needs of workers and visitors to the city.

“The new bus terminal is complete, but cannot be used until April 12 because of the Government’s Covid regulations.”

They added: “The slight delay in completion was caused by delays to the supply chain because of Brexit and Covid regulations. In particular, Brexit regulations resulted in the late arrival of lighting columns.”

Oxford City Council’s Liberal Democrat opposition has been opposed to the extension since it was first proposed in 2017.

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Liz Wade, the Lib Dem councillor for Wolvercote, said: “It has always been a white elephant because we should not be building on the floodplain, especially given flooding problems on the Botley Road.”

She said the Lib Dems had thought building a park and ride within the ring road was a bad idea because it directed traffic into the city.

She also said pricing was not competitive when compared to the Westgate, and had concerns motorists may be more inclined to driver further into the city rather than pay to park and ride.

Though the council has budgeted £5.4m for the project, it is understood this could change once final costs are totted up.

Seacourt Park and Ride extension is due to open on April 12. Picture: Pete Hughes

Seacourt Park and Ride extension is due to open on April 12. Picture: Pete Hughes

The original price tag of £5.2m for the extension was upped last year after flooding delays.

But a further £220,000 was signed of by the city council cabinet for the project last August, and it is unclear how this funding has been counted towards the project, or if it has been used at all.

Local residents have also criticised the extension to the car park in the past.

The Oxford Flood Alliance, a group of residents raising awareness about flooding in low-lying areas of the city, has criticised the council for building out onto the floodplain.

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The car park extension does have a specially designed surface which water is supposed to drain through.

The Oxfordshire Badger Group has also expressed worries about how building on the land would affect wildlife.

When the car park reopens on April 12, Covid rules will also be loosening, with pubs and restaurants able to offer outdoor meals and drinks, and non-essential shops and gyms allowed to open.