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Our Lady of Lourdes and St Vincent de Paul Church, in Harrow Road, has been awarded £6,836 from the Mayor of London’s Grow Back Greener Fund. The parish will spend the grant money on new plants for the north-facing courtyard in front of the church. The planting work at Harrow Road is one of 34 community projects in London that will receive grants from the Grow Back Greener Fund. Local businesses helped the parish to match-fund an additional 20 percent of the grant total.

The new planting in the church courtyard is part of the first phase of an ambitious four-phase programme of improvements planned for the church building and its grounds. Phase one is already underway, with the rendering of the outside of the church recently completed at a cost of £104,000. Phase one also includes the landscaping of the church courtyard, which includes the installation of new gates and railings, planters, trees, a seating area and a grotto with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The landscaping work also includes the digging of the foundations for a new hall extension. The total cost of the landscaping aspect of phase one is close to £80,000 and the parish is hoping to complete these works within four months. (This total does not include the cost of the plants.)

Phase two of the larger scheme is the refurbishment and extension of the parish hall. Phase three is the construction of a new presbytery. The fourth and final phase of the plan is to convert existing accommodation on the site into three self-contained flats for key workers. The funding has not yet been raised for phases two, three and four of the programme.

The new planting for the church courtyard will include low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants, as well as hardy plants which offer interest and colour throughout the year. There will be a mix of evergreen shrubs for structure, deciduous shrubs, perennial planting and flowering plants. Evergreen variegated Photinia trees will be situated close to the grotto and by each side of the entrance to the church. The statue of Our Lady will be surrounded by Lavender, Rose, Choisya and Thymus. Evergreen white flowering Trachelospermum Jasminoides climbers will be planted against the metal railings behind the seating to allow for some privacy from the outside road. These climbers will turn a bronze red colour in the Autumn. The remaining planter beds will house varieties of Pittosporum, Camelia, Loropetalum, Hydrangeas and Berberis with an outline of Artemisia as a foil.

Responding to the Grow Back Greener funding, Fr Michael Jarulowicz, Parish Priest at Harrow Road, said: ‘It is gratifying that the local community (via the Mayor’s fund) is able to sponsor a small project that will bring benefits to all residents who live close to the church. Our courtyard will be open to all, not just our parishioners, as well as doing a small part in helping combat climate change by increasing the amount of green space available to absorb CO2.’

Councillor Adam Hug, who represents the ward that the church is in, said: ‘I’m delighted that Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Vincent de Paul Church in my ward will be benefiting from Sadiq Khan’s Grow Back Greener Fund. This investment will help green and brighten this space on the Harrow Road to make the area a bit more attractive as well as helping tackle the scourge of air pollution.’

Images show the current north-facing courtyard in front of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Vincent de Paul Church, Harrow Road, prior to the landscaping work taking place. Image credit: Our Lady of Lourdes and St Vincent de Paul Church, Harrow Road.

A 3D illustration of what the courtyard will look like once the four-phase programme of works is complete is available here. Illustration credit: Kyle Smart Associates.