Plans that could have seen shops and empty units in the town centre turned into housing have been blocked by Dacorum Borough Council.
Due to a change in planning regulations, commercial premises were at risk of being turned into houses or flats, potentially depriving Hemel of several major businesses located in the area.
The Article 4 direction, which protects these units from being converted, will apply to the majority of buildings in the pedestrianised part of town centre, from the beginning of the Riverside shopping centre down to end of Market Square.
Cllr Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure said: “Hemel town centre is the place where our local community and visitors to the town come together to shop, meet, eat and drink and spend time together.
“High streets up and down the country are struggling, and to recognise this we are putting together a vibrant new plan for Hemel’s town centre to build on its great strengths and encourage new businesses to set up and offer great services.
“We believe that the recent change in planning rules, which allow shops, cafes and other premises at street level to be converted to new housing without planning permission would have a damaging impact on the town centre’s vitality and viability by taking away these active uses on the ground.
“We have therefore taken action to protect the town centre through the confirmation of an Article 4 Direction. This will give the Council the necessary controls it needs to help shape the town centre’s future, working with residents and our partner organisations.”