An entrepreneur hopes to “bring back life” to a Dereham street with a £1m plan to boost business in the town.

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Basil Todd, owner of Wensum Valley Hotel, Golf and Country Club at Taverham, owns nine businesses in Norwich Street, including the Churchills of Dereham gun shop, Coco cafe and the PACT charity shop.

The planned transformation of the street will begin with the launch tomorrow of Lolitas tapas bar and restaurant at 11am.

This is being opened in what was the Cock Inn, which closed more than a year ago.

Future plans include rebuilding the old Lloyds TSB bank and turning it into a three-storey building with a mini- market selling local produce, a formal clothes shop for men and women, four flats and an estate agents.

Mr Todd said: “I have a passion for Norfolk and would like to see it change.

“Dereham is a fantastic town but it has been spoilt. I would love to see some life brought back into it.”

The new, £100,000 restaurant will be run by Steven Hurrell, from Dereham, who grew up at Costessey and has lived in Spain for the past five years.

He has named the restaurant after his baby girl, who was born on Friday, and has signed a lease for 15 years. Lolitas will open from 11am on Thursdays to Sundays.

Lolitas will be able to seat between 40 and 60 people, it has a function room and outdoor tables.

A chef, kitchen assistant, waitress and part-time waitress have been employed.

Mr Hurrell said: “I want to bring everything I love about Spain. I love the culture, the food and the people.”

Dishes on the menu will include signal crayfish from Billingford Lakes, owned by Mr Todd.

The businessman said the restaurant would create a “nice atmosphere” and he hoped the business would attract younger people to the town.

He added that plans had been submitted to Breckland Council to redevelop the old bank and the surrounding area, which he hoped to complete in two years.

One major aspect of the proposal is to create a £600,000 mini market selling vegetables, bread, fish, meat, ice cream, milk, crab and lobster from about 20 Norfolk producers.

Mr Todd hopes to start the development in the spring and if successful, he hopes to develop similar enterprises in other Norfolk market towns.

“I want to try to give farmers a fair deal for the milk. I hope people appreciate what we are doing. It will bring a tremendous amount of people into Dereham,” he added.

The entrepreneur said about 80 people could potentially be employed through the Norwich Street development.

He has also bought the former M F and S L Mansfield Opticians, which closed last year, but plans are not currently in place for the building.

To book a table at Lolitas ring 01362 692131 or visit www.lolitastapas.co.uk or search for Lolitas on Facebook.

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