DEDICATED shoppers delighted to be back in the high street ignored traffic chaos to get into their favourite stores.

In Northallerton a £2.5m redevelopment is underway which has left half the town centre dug up. But shoppers appeared unfazed. Janice Smith from Appleton Wiske said: "I hadn't even noticed the road is being bulldozed. I have been waiting for weeks to come and get my haircut and go in my favourite shops and it is just brilliant to be back.

"After everything we have been through with the pandemic and lockdown a bit or road chaos isn't going to put me off."

Another shopper added: "I have already bought some shoes it's just wonderful to be back in a shop trying things on, the shop assistants have been so pleased to see everyone. I am just happy the doors open again."

Queues quickly built up outside Barkers department store, as well as Wilko's and Charles Clinkard shoe shop. One elderly couple said they were concerned it could still all flare up again but after having their second jab had decided they would be safe enough to venture into the town centre.

"It is nice to be back in the high street, we are being very careful though, we have to remember Covid-19 is still here," they added.

Staff from Love Northallerton, run by the Business Improvement District which represents 200 businesses and shops in Northallerton were handing out bags and buying coffees to thank people. BID manager Graham Bell said: "Businesses have put in a huge amount of work to get ready and we know how much people have missed their favourite shops. This is our way of thanking them for supporting our town."

Hambleton council said there had been delays carrying out the £2.5m scheme to create a new public square and contractors hours are being extended to get it finished. The twice weekly market will not be affected, although traders may be moved around and traffic closures will continue.

Deputy Chief Executive Mick Jewitt said: "We want to thank everyone living and working in the High Street for their patience whilst this work is underway, we are confident any disruption will be worth it to see the high street transformed. It'll ensure Northallerton continues to attract shoppers, visitors and tourists, putting our county town on the map as a destination of choice, making any temporary disruption well worth it."