WORRIED traders are calling for reassurances a £2.57m town centre improvement scheme dogged by delays does not create chaos for Christmas.

Businesses in Northallerton are desperate to ensure a successful festive season, but a major redevelopment of the town’s High Street is weeks behind schedule.

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Hambleton District Council said developers are aiming to complete paving on the new Town Square so that the Christmas tree can be installed in mid November.

One concerned trader said: “It has been awful with so much of the High Street dug up.

“This was supposed to be done in sections but there is a huge area fenced off.

“We have heard that there were problems with the stone paving.”

A spokesperson for Northallerton Business Improvement District, which represents more than 200 businesses and traders, said: “We share the concerns of businesses close to the improvement scheme that have suffered a loss of trade and footfall through the current disruption and welcome clarity from Hambleton District Council on the delays.

“While we recognise the project’s long-term benefits, we are anxious to ensure shops preparing for the busy Christmas period are kept fully informed about completion dates.”

A council spokesperson said: "There has been no delay associated with sourcing or securing the paving materials or incorrect orders.

"Many of the materials including the locally sourced Yorkstone paving have been on long lead in times but were ordered in advance of works starting.

"All paving materials used on the public highway must meet the specific requirements set out by North Yorkshire County Council as the Highways Authority and be approved by them.

"This was the case for the Zetland Street scheme as well as the current High Street scheme.

"Work on the redevelopment of the High Street in Northallerton has taken longer than expected due to the discovery of unforeseen ground conditions which required additional work including removal of the former underground toilets, replacement of Victorian drainage as well as essential additional design work on the sub base which needed to be completed before any further work and subsequent Yorkstone paving could take place.

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"Although disappointing, delays such as this are not uncommon with this kind of development, where there is a need to dig below the surface in a heavily serviced town centre environment.

"The most important thing is that all the necessary work is done now to avoid any further disruption at a later date, and to ensure the quality, sustainability and robustness of the finished product.

"We are confident the end result will be worth the wait with a reinvigorated High Street for both local residents and visitors to enjoy for many years to come."

Northallerton Town Council said it looks forward to the town square being reopened ready for the lighting of the Christmas tree and the authority's Festive Friday event planned for December 3.

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