A major overhaul of a town’s main shopping street has been unveiled in time for the Christmas shopping season.

The £600,000 rejuvenation of West Street in Horsham was officially revealed to the public at the weekend.

The first phase of the overhaul has seen the addition of new signs and seating as well as a curvy pavement to represent the town’s proud equine heritage.

The six-week project, co-funded by Horsham District and West Sussex County councils, is designed to help support the local high street in a bid to draw in more private investment by highlighting the town’s history.

As part of the launch event on Saturday, a public display revealed the history of West Street, horsedrawn carriages led families on a trip back in time while a Santa band and an elf on horseback played on.

Among the businesses taking part on the day was Pret A Manger who hosted a face painter for the day, Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe which handed out horse and sweet related crosswords and The Entertainer, whose staff dressed up as Toy Story cowboys.

A free exhibition on the street runs at Horsham Museum until Saturday.

The re-opening of the street coincided with the turning on of the Christmas lights – and another financial boost to the town with news of £35 million plans to create 70 apartments and flats close to the newly refurbished street.

The plans for the town by developer Westrock would see the part demolition of Bishop Weald House which will be redeveloped.

The development of the “West End” area of the town will also see the relocation of the town’s Waitrose store from Piries Place with the creation of 50 newjobs, and the possible creation of a John Lewis store with the council in advanced negotiations with the much-prized retailer.

Councillor Helena Croft, Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for Horsham Town, said: “I was extremely delighted to see such a great turnout for the event and pleased to see the scheme delivered on time and within budget!

“The initial feedback is positive and I’m optimistic for the future results in boosting the local economy.

Stephen Threlfall of B52’s Bar in Piries Place, speaking on behalf of the Piries Place traders, said: “It was a great afternoon with lots of fun and laughter had by all.

“It was a very successful event in promoting Piries Place and all the wonderful variety of shops it holds for all your shopping needs.”