A £57m Oxford University science campus in Headington could hold the key to the long-awaited expansion of the Thornhill park&ride.

More than 300 staff would be based at the redeveloped campus on Old Road, near the Churchill Hospital.

And the university confirmed that it is ready to make a financial contribution to enlarging Thornhill park&ride as part of a future campus planning agreement.

The university wants to demolish three buildings on its Old Road campus, making way for major new research facilities that have met with opposition from some local residents.

Neighbours are unhappy about the height of the new buildings and the impact on an area with chronic parking and traffic problems.

But a financial contribution to expanding Thornhill park&ride could swing doubters concerned about the traffic implications of the scheme.

Plans to almost double the size of the park and ride on the south-eastern edge of the city, to create more than 500 extra spaces, were recently approved by Oxfordshire County Council, who is now faced with finding £4m to expand the 850-space car park to the west.

University spokesman Matt Pickles said it would be in line with normal arrangements for the council to seek developer contributions as part of the granting of planning consent.

He said: “We would expect to include, within any agreement, wording that indicated that it could be used to the benefit of schemes in the vicinity including contributing towards the addition of parking spaces at Thornhill Park.”

Council spokesman, Owen Morton, said: “A contribution from Oxford University, should it receive approval for a new campus in the area, is certainly one potential source of developer funding which has been discussed and be very welcome.

“At this early stage it is not possible to say what proportion of the estimated £4m overall cost might be met by any one element.”