You won't know his name - but this man is behind stunning plans to transform some of Hull's historic buildings
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 27 Nov 2017
James Ledger may not be a name many are familiar with - but he is a man who is quietly doing his bit to transform Hull.
The property developer is the brains behind the renovation of Hull’s historic 19th-century Winding House, the iconic luxury apartment block on Freetown Way, and the conversion of the derelict former convent in Beverley Road to high-spec apartments.
What may look like a lost cause to many developers poses a challenge to James, and in his own words, he views every new project as “a new Everest to climb.”
“Hull is going in the right direction now – I think we are now looking outwards, and we also need to look at cities like Leeds and Manchester,” James said.
“For far too long we have been upset about the demise of the fishing industry. The demise took us a long time to come out of our depression, and we went to rock bottom, but now have a lot of fantastic opportunities.”
Born and raised in Hull, James returned to the city almost a decade ago after travels which saw him study at a business school in London and renovate buildings in Beijing.
One of his first projects in Hull was the conversion of the former James Reckitt Library in Holderness Road into 30 flats.
The building, gifted to the city by businessman Sir James Reckitt, had previously been empty for more than a decade.
James’ ambitious plans for Victoria Dock’s Winding House – which aim to be “the finest flats in Hull city centre” – proved more problematic.
Artist impressions of The Winding House in Victoria Dock
He said: “I first tried to buy the building in 2013, but someone outbid me.
“Nothing became of it, and in October last year it came back up again. I offered nearly triple the money I did the first time, and was sure I had to get it.
“I was then told someone had outbid me again, but a bit later on I was told if I wanted the building, it was mine.”
Plans for the new five luxury flats, which will boast a view down to the dock and onto the River Humber, were given the green light by Hull councillors in October.
“I am not the person who would do something just because it would make some money,” James said.
“You don’t get many opportunities in life to make a difference, so I see each chance as an opportunity to create something fantastic.
Artists impression of the new flats in Freetown Way
“I am excited by what I do, and want people to feel the same way.”
James’ recent portfolio also includes the plans to create a ‘flagship’ block of luxury apartments in Freetown Way.
Councillors agreed at their planning committee in October that the new building would "bring the wow factor" to visitors arriving in Hull from the east.
James’ next application will go before Hull City Council on December 8.
His plans for The Endsleigh Centre in Beverley Road – formerly a covenant run by nuns – include the creation of more than 80 flats.
The Endsleigh Centre plans will go before the council next month
The developer responded to concerns from residents about the plans, which included an increase in traffic and fears the flats would overlook neighbouring houses.
He said: “All the stained glass windows which are there will be kept the same, and the exterior of the building will be unchanged.
“The orchard, memorial garden and maze will also be kept – there is no point in cutting corners, and I want that to be the finest accommodation in the area.”
James’ passion for Hull is clear to see, alongside his determination to turn historic buildings which have fallen into neglect into a benchmark for Hull’s future.
“For every project that I do, the bar is raised a little bit higher.
“I am so positive about the future for Hull. It just needs to be encouraged,” he said.
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