Works on a multi-million-pound regeneration of a town centre landmark are well and truly underway.
Piries Place, in Horsham, looks almost unrecognisable as developers continue to tear down the area in a bid to create a new retail and leisure hub.
Plans were approved last year to turn the historic square into a ‘high quality leisure area’.
The site has suffered since Waitrose moved to its new home in Albion Way and developers Reef Estates are looking to improve the shopping quarter by creating a new cinema, 92-bed hotel, retail and restaurants units.
Half of the former Waitrose unit has been demolished along with several shops on eastern side of the site and the iconic Piries Place arch.
Many of the shops have been vacated and B52s bar has also been emptied following its closure on New Years day.
Images emerged of everyone’s favourite statue Mr Piries and his Donkey surrounded by rubble prompting many concerns but developers have confirmed the popular landmark has been removed and put away for safe keeping.
Will Rohleder, Reef Estates Development Director, said: “It took a considerable amount of expertise to remove Mr Pirie and his donkey and the artist’s representatives had to be contacted to ensure the structure was dealt with safely and securely.
“The sculpture is now in storage, and will remain there until close to project completion, when it will be repositioned within the square.”
The old Waitrose unit will be converted into a three-screen cinema while a four storey hotel will be created at the units previously home to Beeches cafe and Pets Corner.
Eight retail units will also be refurbished ready for new shops and restaurants.
So far only three traders have been confirmed.
Independent boutique cinema chain Everyman will be taking over the cinema while national hotel giant Premier Inn will be running the hotel.
Brasserie White Company will be opening in the largest restaurant unit fronting the Carfax, where the former entrance to Waitrose used to be, offering French brasserie food with an English twist.
In addition a number of existing tenants, who are continuing to trade in Piries Place, have signed new leases.
Developers said Louise Sloan Opticians, Ceramic Shack, and Timpson and Lower Lodge Candles have all signed new deals along with Broadbridges which will be moving to the shop formerly home to Sugar and Snow.
Jason Russell, Reef Estates Construction Director, said: “We are working hard with our main contractor, Gilbert Ash, to try and ensure existing tenants continue trading as the construction progresses and to minimise disruption and inconvenience over this period.”
Demolition will continue until the end of February and works are expected to be completed in early 2019.