One of Brighton's most well-known clubs has become the most high profile victim of the new licensing laws. The Sussex Arts Club, in Ship Street, has provided a venue for countless events and shows as well as a place for celebrities to relax undisturbed for the last 15 years.

In that time, the private members' club has played host to many famous names, including the writer Julie Burchill, singer Will Young and indie band Green Day.

But, due to a drop in the number of members, it has been forced to sell up and holds its last night on September 20.

The club's manager Brian Ferguson said changes in the new licensing laws were to blame for the closure.

He told The Argus: "With the late licences people don't have to leave the pub at 11pm and move on to a club. They can now stay there until 2 or 3am in some places and consequently fewer are going on to clubs.

"We've seen a steady decline in numbers over the last couple of years. We still have around 1,000 members but fewer of them are actually coming in to the club and that's where we make our money.

"It's a real shame. I am sad that we will be closing but I also see that it is the right time for a change."

Mr Ferguson said the Sussex Arts Club name was being retained and plans were afoot to find a new venue for a smaller boutique bar and members' club elsewhere in the city.

The club's owner Raj Annamalai was unavailable for comment but on it website he said he regretted the closure but felt that the time was right to move on to new ventures.

The news was met with disappointment from Brighton's arts community.

Brighton Festival Fringe spokeswoman Holly Payton described the loss as "a real shame".

She said: "I'm disappointed and surprised that the club is closing.

"It had a real charm and I liked the fact that it was a members' club and they have put on so many great events there over the years.

"We will have to find another space now for the Fringe performances. I'm sure that one will turn up but it was a special place.

"It was like a little bit of glamour in the centre of town."

Founded in 1994 for people who work in the arts or have a genuine interest in them, the club made use of a Grade-II listed Georgian building in the heart of the Old Lanes area of Brighton.

With two bars and a large domed ballroom, the club proved the perfect venue to host a wide variety of performances including club nights, live bands and stage shows.

It's members-only admission policy and sheltered but vibrant surroundings made it popular with visiting celebrities and earned it a description by Marie-Claire magazine of the "Groucho Club by the sea".

As well as being a great venue for shows the club also provided a place to stay, with seven individually-designed bedrooms named after Brighton celebrities, including the Wilde, Olivier and Greene rooms.

Mr Ferguson would not confirm which hotel chain was buying the club, only that it was a "national" company.

The keys will be handed over to the new owners October 1.

He said: "It's a real shame for Brighton to lose the club. It has been here for a long time and it is a beautiful building.

"It is just one of those things and a time for change."

The club's farewell gig is a Da Doo Ron Ron Sixties party on September 15.

The final event is a burlesque and DJ night on September 20.