THE £5 million transformation of a former furniture store into a 300-student international college is underway.

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a large gaping hole at the corner of Oxford Place and Ditchling Road in Brighton emerging over the last month.

Work is underway to convert the former Buxtons furniture store into a college for up to 59 boarders in a scheme designed to bring £2 million into the local economy and create 58 teaching and support jobs.

Kings Colleges, which has sites in London, Oxford and Bournemouth as well as in Boston and Los Angeles in America, hope to move into the new building in 2017.

Permission was granted for the scheme back in August and a second application for the neighbouring corner site of Oxford Place and Ditchling Road was granted last month.

The new permission granted the demolition of garages and workshops facing the former Buxtons store - which have sat unused for up to four years - and the construction of a three-storey college building.

The new building will host a number of classrooms, art studio, a physics lab, toilets and a staff room.

A similar scheme was rejected last year over fears of the impact of the building on neighbouring residents.

Buxtons was a prominent feature of Ditchling Road for decades, opening up in the street as a second-hand furniture store in 1919 before closing nearly a decade ago.

It has remained a prominent landmark in the city opposite The Level having served as a giant canvas for graffiti artists until its demolition last month.

Andrew Green, group marketing and communications director for Kings Education, said: “Work commenced around four weeks ago and the original building is now completed removed.

“Work is now underway on excavating the basement which will eventually house the onsite student cafeteria with access to an internal courtyard.

“We had always planned on including the smaller site over the road in Oxford Place.

“This will house specialist teaching facilities including a dedicated art studio and science labs to complement the main building and will very much be part of the Kings Brighton college site.

“We are due to take delivery of the building in early 2017 with the final costs predicted to be in excess of £5 million.”