PLANS to rip up a cobbled path to make it easier for worshippers with a disability to get to church could be rejected - because it isn't deemed to look good.

A planning application has been made to form a ramped access to the main entrance at St Andrew's Church, Wiveliscombe, along with improvements to the doors in the west and north porches.

The application, in the name of former rector the Rev David Widdows, outlines proposals to lift and relay the existing driveway from the man Church Street approach with a non-slip flat surface ramped access. The cobbles to the side would be relaid.

Mr Widdows said: "The driveway is in need of urgent repair.

"The existing surface is very uneven and immediately within the north churchyard gates the cobbles have sunk very badly."

Somerset County Gazette:

The cobbles at St Andrew's Church, Wiveliscombe.

Supporting the application, district councillor Eddie Gaines said: "We are all custodians of where we live and work.

"At the same time, we must realise that where necessary alterations are needed - in this case to make it easier for people to enter and utilise the full; church events and of course pastoral care.

"Providing better access and egress provision is vital and also being able to support less able and disabled people is vital in a caring community.

"If you don't provide it at a church, then something is amiss."

Fellow district councillor Steve Ross said: "The current access causes issues for a large group of users, especially those members of our community with difficulties arising from age, disability or parents with prams. Improvement is long overdue."

An officer's report to Taunton Deane Borough Council this evening (Wednesday) suggests the changes to the doors were acceptable, but recommended turning down the proposals because of the access plans.

The report says: "It would result in the loss of a cobble path that contributes to the setting of this highly significant church and the surrounding Wiveliscombe conservation area and is an example of a West Country vernacular which is becoming increasingly neglected.

"The proposed design will cause harm at the medium to high end of the spectrum of harm and it is considered that an alternative and less harmful option exists that will achieve the same public benefit."

Heritage England opposes the plans outside the grade II listed church, which was entirely rebuilt in the late 1820s and two "more sensitive" alternatives it put forward have been judged unsuitable by the parochial church council.

St Andrew's was closed for four months last summer during internal improvements, with services held at the town's Kingsmead School.