A LONG-standing former sports shop will retain its bright look after plans to replace the ageing building with a new modern design were rejected.

Sam Willoughby Architects had plans for a new building to replace Swift Sports in Grand Parade, Brighton, turned down by planning officers despite it receiving the backing of conservation groups.

Instead the firm have been given the go ahead to retain the distinctive yellow building and convert it into housing.

Mr Willoughby said he was surprised by council officers decision to support retaining a building he considered a “blot” on the street.

The sports shop closed more than 12 months ago after 53 years of service by owner Ken George who sold-up to take up his well-deserved retirement.

Attempts to relet the property as a shop had been unsuccessful despite its asking rent being dropped twice with the building falling into a state of disrepair with holes in the ceilings and leaks during wet weather.

The Brighton-based architecture firm first submitted an application in July to demolish the shop and build a new three bedroom building.

The design for a new modern frontage, which incorporated modern reinterpretations of Victorian Ironwork, had the backing of the Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) but was rejected by the council’s conservation officer in September.

New plans retaining the current frontage were not supported by CAG or David Robson of RIBA Sussex, who recommended refusal because the current building had been altered over the years, but was granted consent last month.

Mr Willoughby said: “The building has not been listed by Historic England as it has no obvious features of historical interest, the castellated parapet is a pastiche of an earlier style and by looking at the frontage it is clear that the building has been altered beyond recognition over the years.

“In our opinion it is a blot on an otherwise attractive street and conservation area that consists of many fantastic architectural assets in a variety of styles.

“We had hoped that the modern design would be the latest edition to a continually evolving street elevation and had incorporated modern reinterpretations of Victorian Ironwork for the shuttering as well as using the reflective qualities of glass to mirror the tree lined gardens in front.

“I’m aware that the ambitious nature of the original proposal would not be to everyone’s liking but we feel that as the original building was not listed there was an opportunity to create something of architectural merit that reflects the vibrant and design conscious nature of the city.”