A cobbled path at a medieval abbey which dates back to 705AD is set to be replaced – because of health and safety fears.
Councillors fear that someone could trip on the uneven surface at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset and sue them for compensation.
So they are applying for planning permission to spend £30,000 laying a modern, smooth path alongside it.
But some locals oppose the plans, claiming the new path will damage the character of the building.
Town councillor Katherine Pike said: ”If we go on being so risk averse we will not have a cobble, hill or step left.
”Those are the kinds of things people come to places like Sherborne to see.”
The cobblestone path leads from the Sherborne Museum past the entrance of the 1,300-year-old abbey.
But Sherborne Abbey’s ‘Fabric Committee’ chairman Mike Keatinge told a council meeting on Monday that a new smoothly-paved is needed to prevent trips and falls.
He said: ”We want to do this for the fact we have had a steady trickle of accidents, people tripping on the cobbles. We know of one lady who had a particularly bad fall.”
But he agreed there could be objections on historical grounds.
”There is also an objection that this would destroy a medieval street,” he said.
”We have conducted archaeological surveys and I’m convinced it is not medieval. During a recent examination of the site we found disturbed Victorian earthworks with clay piping.”
Sherborne Mayor Jane Smith agreed that action was needed: ”The condition of the existing lane concerns me,” she said.
”It is uncomfortable to use even if you’re an able-bodied person. These things don’t get better – only worse.
”There is a public liability factor to take into account here, if someone has an accident.”
Councillor Drusilla Gurzynski cautioned that a planning application could be opposed by West Dorset District Council’s conservation officers and turned down by the authority.
But councillors voted six to four to seek planning permission for the path, which would be put on the grassed area alongside the existing path.