Regional Design Service
Aaron's next step in supporting our community for a brighter future
As so many in our town of Corowa and surrounding Federation Council areas already know, our Director Aaron Nicholls has an unwavering commitment to supporting his local community. His latest move, standing as a Candidate in the upcoming NSW Local Government Elections, illustrates just how passionate he is to develop and deliver positive change for rural and regional people.
The decision for Aaron to stand as a representative has been something he’s been considering for some time. Spurred on by four other local people who share a similar perspective, Aaron has stepped up to the challenge of driving real change for his community; through innovation, creative thinking and inclusive dialogue. Aaron said in a recent Press interview:
“2021 has been a year of both disruption and opportunity for our region and I want to stand for our community to maintain our economic strength whilst at the same time push for better social, cultural and development outcomes across the whole Federation Council area.”
A fifth generation Corowa local, both Aaron’s immediate Grandparents on his Father’s side worked in retail establishments on Sanger Street, Aaron is immensely proud to follow in their footsteps; co-directing multi award-winning practice Regional Design Service - which is also on Sanger Street. His mother’s family hail from local villages Rand and Daysdale, with connections back some four generations, with backgrounds in farming and local business. Fond childhood memories take him back to weekends spent on their farms chasing turkeys and being given too much ice-cream.
This love for and connection to Rand and surrounds drove the creation of Plan Rand - a strategic vision and masterplan for the towns future that was delivered by Regional Design Service in 2019.
After many years working in business both interstate and overseas, Aaron returned home in 2017 to co-found Regional Design Service. Since his return Aaron has been an increasingly active volunteer across a diverse range of groups.
He is the re-elected Chair of the Federation Arts & Photography Prize - an event and exhibition that brings inspiration, purpose and talent to residents and visitors for a two week period in October and November.
In 2019 Aaron was appointed Chair of the immigrant and refugee welcome group ‘Who is my Neighbour’.
“Since becoming Chair, we have achieved success in strengthening the local region as a welcome zone for New Australians. As a result, in 2020, Federation Council signed onto the Refugee Council of Australia’s Refugee Welcome Zone. We are now working with Federation Council with a view to sign onto the Welcoming Cities Prgramme - which will set the framework for new families to come to our Council area for employment and social contribution in a very positive way."
Most recently, he jointly was responsible for forming the Corowa Community Action Group, which now is over 300 members strong. This group was formed to investigate and question a controversial proposed development of some 300+ small-lot dwellings on the fringe of Corowa.
“Issues with the development planning raised concerns around the negative social, economic, and environmental impacts in a small regional township, and as the only registered Architecture business in the Federation Council area I believed it was our responsibility to stand up, represent the communities concern and question / propose how the community could welcome development that meets their expectations.”
As a result of mustering community sentiment and feedback (and the group calling for closer scrutiny of the proposal) Federation Council Staff ultimately recommended to Council that the amended Voluntary Planning Application not be approved. Eight out of nine councillors voted in favour of not supporting the VPA - a fantastic result for the community of Corowa and indeed wider Federation Council constituents. The matter now sits of the NSW Land and Environment Court for final determination.
Aaron is particularly conscious of emphasising that although he is from Corowa and very active within the town, he will be a representative for all towns within the Federation Council area.
“I see myself as a resident of the whole Federation Council region and if elected will be a representative for all within and connected to it - to ensure a Diverse, Creative, Transparent and Productive region. We need to move away from the 'pocketed' approach to representation; I want to be on the ground, where I'm needed - whether it's in Boree Creek, Corowa or Mulwala."
What is Aaron Committing To?
“The Federation Council area offers a truly unique opportunity for all people to thrive in a healthy, supportive and dynamic way - whether you are an employee, own a business, retired or indeed cannot work.” Aaron recently said.
He has a keen focus on Economic Development, with a particular emphasis on the reactivation of Retail precincts and associated strategies to bring people back to our main streets; and how we attract more small and medium businesses to our townships generally.
He will be lobbying for better Planning and Development outcomes, which includes the preservation and improvement of our streetscape and shopping precincts, Residential and Commercial Development and importantly, affordable housing options.
Aaron’s campaign also includes the pursuit of better funding for Arts and Culture. Aaron states:
“I’d love to see more investment in better facilities and strategies for our Museums, galleries and libraries; as well as genuine support for Artists and Performers to come to our area - whether it’s a gig in a pub or poetry in a paddock!”
To learn more about Aaron’s campaign efforts in the lead up to the election, follow his Facebook page here.
The Federation Council elections will be held on Saturday, 4 December.