Watford Borough Council has introduced measures which will give the council more control over four key employment areas in the borough.
The council is also pressing the government to protect high streets.
The new powers – called Article 4 Directions – mean that planning permission will now need to be granted for employment land to be changed to residential use.
Further loss of employment land to residential use would mean the area could soon run out of enough employment land for prospective companies, investors and start-up businesses.
Under the new powers, the council has protected employment areas around Greycaine Road, Odhams and Sandown Road.
The reduction of employment land in Watford has also encouraged the council to issue a strong response to government plans to give high street shops greater freedom to change from one use to another – including homes – without planning permission.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “For Watford’s economy to continue to grow it is vital that we have good quality employment space. Watford is home to a number of businesses, small to large, which is a good thing for our town. These article four directions will mean that we are able to stop this being lost and converted into flats.
“We have also been very clear to the government that their proposals to reduce our ability to protect and promote our High Street are unacceptable. We all understand that some new homes are needed but people we must also have places to work, shop and enjoy their leisure time. I will do everything I can to make sure that this balance is maintained – and not lost because of the pressure from central government for more homes.”