Local Regeneration Innovators
February 15th 2019
The economic regeneration of local areas is a lifetime vocation and passion for Sandra Armstrong and Steven Szostak
Strathleven Regeneration is building on its solid property development reputation gained through the long-term venture with house builders, Walker Group of Companies which ended in December. The Vale of Leven based business is about to embark upon its most innovative challenge yet – to go it alone, to develop its remaining 23 acres of employment land at Lomondgate and to create as many new jobs as possible for local people and local business contractors.
Steered by a high-powered board of successful individuals the company has already established relationships with the likes of Aggreko, Chivas Brothers and BBC Scotland. Now it is time to develop closer ties with the community.
Sandra Armstrong and Steven Szostak (pictured) are the guiding hands behind Strathleven Regeneration – a profit for purpose company, committed to re-investing surplus in jobs focused regeneration. Collectively, they have over 60 years’ experience in the field of community based economic regeneration.
Sandra lives locally and has had a long career spanning 27 years in regenerating and encouraging communities, having worked previously with a local economic development company and also managed a business centre, she regards economic development and regeneration as her absolute focus. Sandra said “Having engaged with start up and established businesses in the past, I have a deep appreciation of the challenges they face but also the huge benefits a well-run business can offer a community”.
Steven is a pivotal national figure in the Regeneration Community with many years fine tuning his vocation around ‘asset based’ regeneration. He has specialised in succession planning for community-based projects. In a number of urban projects going as far back as the 1990s some of Steven’s initiatives are still collecting commercial rentals for community directed re-investment. “Pump priming local economic investment and breathing life into redundant industrial land and sites is never straight forward. But the real conundrum – the icing on the cake – is working to establish long-term income streams which will be investing back into the area way after our work is done. It’s not for the faint hearted and needs Sandra, myself and the board to challenges orthodox property development. That way we have a chance of getting built what is actually needed, alongside an income stream which can be funding West Dunbartonshire projects way into the future”.
Steven’s first focus is matching property enquiries to the priorities of the SRC board and its wider partners.Not simply driven by the highest financial offers for their land, this includes assessing the design quality of proposed buildings, associated workforce skills, construction supply chains, new job opportunities and local sub-contracts.“We could fill the site tomorrow with the usual type of developments, but we are demanding much more and expect those we work with to be prepared to ‘buy-into’ the master plan for Strathleven. We firmly believe our historic success can at least be matched again with smart contracts with continued not one-off benefits”.
Steven and Sandra see the new challenge as exciting, complex and really capable of bringing head-turning innovation to the property deals remaining. Good to know that the team is creative and backed by a committed Board of Directors. There are interesting times ahead.