A family-run fish and chip restaurant empire is set to expand with a £1.5million investment.
Bells Fish Shop, which has been running for 60 years, is set to open its fourth operation in Finchale Road, Framwellgate Moor, Durham City, creating 25 jobs.
Owner Graham Kennedy, who has been in the industry alongside his wife Alleson for 32 years, has invested in the ongoing transformation of a former derelict car showroom into a 9,000sq ft restaurant, takeaway and preparation centre.
Graham said: “Over the past six years we have invested our time and funds into a strategic expansion drive across the region.
“This project is an exciting step for the business as we continue to grow the Bells Fish Shop brand.
“We are looking forward to the launch and replicating the success of our other restaurant and takeaways while building on our reputation and presence in the area.
“The restaurant will add to branches in Market Square, Durham, Sunderland Road, Gilesgate, and Craggs Road, Washington.
Graham, who is a qualified chef, launched his first takeaway at the age of 21.
He added: “The team at Bradley Hall were an integral part of this milestone, including gaining planning permission and acquiring the units.”
Bradley Hall planning and design director Mark Ketley said: “We are delighted to have secured planning permission for this scheme on behalf Mr Kennedy.
“The planning system is tasked with supporting investment and economic growth, and this is an exemplar proposal as the redevelopment of this derelict site will create new jobs for local people.”
Peter Bartley, group director at Bradley Hall, said: “We were delighted to assist Graham, who is a long-term client of the firm, with this project.”
The permission also includes provision for an additional retail unit on the site.