Fences have gone up around Mr Pirie and his Donkey in Piries Place.
The popular statue has been fenced in at the Horsham town centre site and parts of the pavement have been ripped up. Workers have also been spotted inside the old Waitrose unit.
The area is set to be transformed in a £35m regeneration project which will see a new cinema, hotel and restaurants created.
Developers Reef Estates and Arcus-pcd, which are behind the project, told the County Times the fences had been put up as workers were currently undertaking archeological surveys in the area.
A spokesman said the surveys were being carried out as they prepared to start construction later this year.
An application to create a three-screen Everyman cinema, a 92-bed hotel, shops, offices, and restaurants was approved in February.
Works were expected to start this summer with the completion date estimated for Autumn 2018.
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