Special report on MP's monorail vision for Wakefield city centre: 'Track would stretch from Westgate to Kirkgate'
Wakefield’s MP has revealed plans to build a monorail system and a conference centre ‘the size of a small town’ in the middle of Wakefield.
Imran Ahmad Khan wants to give Wakefield a new identity and dramatically revamp the city centre.
The Conservative MP has also called for a Denby Dale bypass road between Wakefield and Kirklees, and the reopening of Ossett and Horbury station.
Under the city centre proposals, which are at an early stage, a huge conference centre – comparable in size to those in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow – would replace the area where the Ridings is currently situated.
The complex, which would be intended to include two or three large hotels, would fill the area in between George Street to the cathedral precinct. Lengthways, it+ would begin around Queen Street and extend to Kirkgate.
Mr Khan said the scale of the project “ might be similar to the hotel exhibition centres you see in Las Vegas”.
He suggested a monorail could begin at Westgate station.
There would then be a further stations around Wood Street, Northgate or Cross Street. Following that the track would go to the cathedral precinct and Trinity Walk, and on to Kirkgate station.
Over time he would like to see the monorail expand out in a loop to the Hepworth or a branch line to Sandal Castle. Mr Khan is looking to residents, Wakefield Council, the business community and private sector, and the wider city for backing on the project.
Though no official applications have yet been made Mr Khan wants to use available government ‘levelling-up’ funds to take the first steps.
He said: “We have a chance to truly brand ourselves as the crossroads of the kingdom and a meeting place.
“If we succeed and pull together as one city we will have a whole new epoch, an exciting new era for Wakefield.
“Our past will be nothing to the beautiful future we have. “The world will meet in Wakefield.” Mr Khan said the geographic location of Wakefield in the centre of the country, its close links to the M1 and M62, and rail route to London were vital to the project and showed why the city would be ideal for conferences to gather.
He said the centre would generate huge footfall for shops, bars and restaurants when people visited.
The plans would also include mixed housing in the area around Ings Road, the area around the former Speedibake building, and towards Wakefield prison.
Mr Khan said: “The project will be a big boom and give Wakefield a clear purpose.
“This is not party political – this is for Wakefield. If we get behind this idea and say it is all of Wakefield that wants it then it strengthens my arm to get backing. It would be transformative for our city.”
Monorails are relatively common in China, Japan and India, with some now running in the US, Australia and Germany.
Currently the only monorails in action in the UK are located at Flamingo Land, Alton Towers, Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, and the National Motor Museum in Hampshire.
Chester Zoo decommissioned its monorail in 2019.
Wakefield Council and the Ridings have been approached for comment.