MAJOR town centre improvement works will be completed on time for the Christmas shopping rush.

Shoppers have had to deal with months of disruption as the £3.95million pedestrianisation of Burnley town centre took shape.

Concerns the project was falling behind schedule and could delay the town's Christmas lights switch-on have been dismissed.

Town leaders said visitors to Burnley would see a 'top quality' pedestrianised zone ideal to welcome festive shoppers.

Cllr Mark Townsend, Burnley Council's leader, said the transformation of the shopping areas was expected to be finished by the end of November.

Brian Hobbs, president of Burnley's Chamber of Trade, said he was pleased the work would be done in time.

He said: "We were given assurances the town centre work would be done before Christmas and from what I have seen they are doing the last few touches now.

"The work has been needed and it looks great.

"I would have to describe it as a job well done by those involved."

The work has involved refurbishing pedestrianised sections of St James’s Street and Hammerton Street, as well as resurfacing worn-out paving and replacing benches and planters.

The announcement came as the council agreed to pay an extra £325,000 towards the bill after increased costs were imposed by Lancashire County Council.

County Hall bosses said the extra money was needed due to increases in material costs, changes to the scope and the design of the work and extra drainage work.

Debbie Hernon, Charter Walk's shopping centre manager, said: "The paving throughout the town centre looks fantastic and is a real boost to the shopping environment offering visitors an even better experience.

"Many Charter Walk shop managers have commented on how good the paving looks and it’s something that we should be really proud of, stepping us up a gear ready for Primark opening here at Charter Walk early next year.

"The look and feel of the centre is now fresh, modern and ready to welcome new and old customers and we look forward to them wanting to spend more time in their town centre."

Cllr Lian Pate, Burnley Council's portfolio holder for pavement management, said she was pleased the work was coming to a close.

She said: "It was something the town certainly needed and everyone is going to benefit from it.

"Getting the work done before Christmas would be great because it means everyone will be able to shop and enjoy the new look."

Last year's Christmas lights switch-on saw two days of entertainment including an ice sculpture trail, a Santa give-away, a Christmas market and a live stage show from Burnley Youth Theatre.

This year's events have not yet been revealed.

Cllr Townsend said: "I am absolutely confident this will happen and shoppers will be able to visit the town centre as freely as possible in the run up to Christmas.

"The work is going to be of the top quality and it looks absolutely fantastic so far.

"The extra money asked for by the county council was passed through without a hitch.

"It was needed otherwise we would have to have scaled back the works and we did not want to do that.

"We were originally looking for the work to be done by spring next year but now it will be done well before Christmas.

"The only road which may not be finished is Parker Lane. However, that is away from the main shopping area and would be completed by the spring."