The controversial decision to expand Seacourt Park and Ride will go ahead as planned after the government said it was happy for the city council to make the final decision on it.
Oxford City Council, which proposed the plan and runs the site, received a letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on Friday saying it does not need to intervene.
The ministry said that having carefully considered the application, the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, was content that it should be decided by the local planning authority.
The city council wants to expand the park and ride to cope with extra demand caused by the reopening of Westgate last October.
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, board member for planning and regulatory services at the city council, said: “I’m pleased that the Secretary of State has seen no reason to question the grounds for the decision made independently by our planning committees.
“Work on this much-needed capacity expansion of the city’s western park and ride facility can now commence.”
Livid campaigners, worried about flooding and the potential impact on badgers, branded the 685-space expansion as a ‘waste of taxpayer money’ when city councillors approved the plan in January.
Green Party councillor Ruthi Brandt, shadow member for planning and regulatory services, told this newspaper earlier this year that she ‘hoped sense would prevail’ and the Secretary of State would reject it.
“As a member of the committee, I’ve been trying to understand the reasoning and the planning reasons for why this is acceptable, but I just wasn’t convinced,” she said.
“What frustrated me was this conflation of essential and important. It might be important to have an extension to the park and ride, but it’s not essential.
“I think we’ve wasted our council’s money by approving the plan.”
Oxfordshire Badger Group accused the city council of breaching national planning policy and its own planning strategy by saying it needed to build on the green belt and flood plain.
No start date has been set for the expansion work to begin.