A seaside gallery has won a national award in recognition of its architectural excellence.

Jerwood Gallery in Hastings has been lauded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) today as one of the finest new buildings in the country.

The structure will now be shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize for best building of the year, which will be drawn from today’s award winners.

Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said he was overjoyed at the announcement.

The Jerwood Gallery, situated next to the fishing beach in Hastings’ historic Old Town, is the home for the Jerwood Collection of 20th and 21st century art and changing contemporary exhibition programme.

The striking building opened in March 2012. He added: “These awards show that it’s not just about our existing buildings, but about investing for the future.

“To have a national award winner here in Hastings is a fantastic achievement and I pay tribute to the Jerwood Foundation and HAT Projects, their architects.

“This is excellent news for Hastings, especially as we await the decision on the UK City of Culture 2017 shortlist. We pride ourselves on the town’s appearance and take a very hard line on our ‘grotbusting’ approach to untidy and derelict buildings.”

The news came as TV star and comedian Graham Norton threw his weight behind Hastings and Bexhill’s attempt to become the 2017 city of culture and said he could think of nowhere more deserving than the famous 1066 country.

He added: “I have been spending time in the area for the last ten years and have truly fallen in love with it and the people who call it home.

“Over the years it seems to have had more than its fair share of hard knocks but the residents’ energy and pride continually win the day.

“This award would be perfect boost and reward for an area that needs and deserves it.

“The quickest of glances will show you the galleries and festivals, but spend time there and you will discover an extraordinary amount of writers, artists, activists and crafts people all happily sharing their talents.

“Bexhill and Hastings and the surrounding areas are packed to bursting with energy, creativity and attractions.

“Make it official and declare 1066 Country the City of Culture.”