AN American fast-food chain is to serve up ­dozens of new jobs and spark the start of a new evening economy for a popular shopping mall.

KFC has been given the ­go-ahead to build a drive through restaurant in the centre of Motherwell which is expected to open at easter next year.

The Kentucky-based chain which specialises in fried chicken is investing £1.3million in the development at Motherwell Shopping Centre which will also create 50 new jobs.

The green light has been given by councillors in North Lanarkshire. The centre is owned and managed by Chester Properties.

Chester director William Gear said: "Having a new KFC will give us a double boost.

"It will be a great facility in its own right and we hope it will act as a springboard to extend trading and other ­activities into the evening.

"We are enjoying a real boom in shopper numbers and have welcomed an great mix of eight new traders ­already this year.

"These deals follow recent lease renewals with Quiz, ­Officers Club and EE.

"Motherwell Shopping Centre is well over 90% let and attracted more than a million customers during the first quarter of this year, a record for the centre.

"We also became the first shopping in the country to launch a 'carry to car' service, which has been hugely popular with shoppers.

"But KFC is the icing on the cake and we have pledged to back them with a £500,000 investment, as part of our commitment to improve ­facilities for our shoppers."

KFC's senior property ­acquisition manager Neil ­Armour said: "We are ­delighted to be opening in Motherwell and believe KFC will be a positive ­addition to the local area.

"The shopping centre is really buzzing mainly ­because shoppers see it as delivering great value.

"The new store will create 50 jobs jobs with real career paths and accredited training at every stage, including apprenticeships. A majority of these will be part time, which will bring real choice and flexibility to the local labour market."