Plans to demolish a children's hospital and build a block of flats have been thrown out by a government inspector.

The proposals for the former Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Dyke Road, Brighton, had faced opposition from people all over the city, particularly those belonging to the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Association who were instrumental in bringing the campaign to save the building to the fore.

Taylor Wimpey wanted to build 149 flats and a new surgery on the site of the Royal Alex.

Brighton and Hove city councillors rejected the proposals in December, prompting the firm to appeal against the decision.

But after a four-day public inquiry at Brighton town hall a planning inspector has dismissed the appeal and refused to give the construction firm permission to demolish the buildings.

Roger Amerena, the chairman of the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Association, said: “The inspector acknowledged that the Alex is a much-loved local landmark and an important architectural feature of the conservation area.

“This decision opens the way for a sensible and sensitive conversion plan.”

In his report government inspector John Papworth condemned the plans for the block of flats for being bulky, overbearing, too high and encroaching on the green space in front of the former children's hospital at the corner of Dyke Road and Clifton Hill.

He added that the building would have had an unacceptable impact on the conservation area and that the sub-basement doctors' surgery was poorly designed.

He praised the Victorian building and said: “I do not discount the possibility of some retention of the south façade, as being the part most in the public view, which contributes the most to the area and which I consider could be seen as epitomising the children's hospital.”

The Brighton Society also presented evidence to the inquiry which concentrated on the value of the existing buildings and the importance of retaining them.

The society feels it is essential to retain the main southern building and welcomed the inspector's view that the original hospital building is a historic part of Brighton.

Councillor Jason Kitcat, who represents Regency Ward, said: “It's really a fantastic relief and is testament to the dedication and hard work of the residents' association who put a fantastic amount of work into the inquiry.

“I have never experienced such strong feeling from people across the city.”