New businesses looking to move into Hertfordshire are struggling to find enough office space – according to a real estate firm.

Chartered surveyors Lambert Smith Hampton have urged the Local Enterprise Partnership to lobby Whitehall on the impact the loss of commercial floorspace has on the county’s economy.

The company claims one of the biggest drivers in the deficit of employment space is due to permitted development rights: a national grant which allows certain building works to happen without a planning application.

A recent Local Enterprise Partnership survey suggests a net loss of more than 771,000sq ft in commercial space in the past decade creates “very real problems” for new and existing businesses, especially investors.

A report by Lambert Smith Hampton makes a number of recommendations and concludes the Government should halt existing permitted development rights and not proceed with an extension proposed in a recent consultation document.

Failure to do so would “seriously impact” economic growth, especially in the creative and knowledge-based economy – according to the real estate firm.

Hertfordshire LEP chairman Mark Bretton said: “This report indicates that the impact of permitted development rights is more keenly felt here in Hertfordshire than in other parts of the UK.

“We must ensure local planning authorities can deliver sustainable economic development by being able to plan adequately for employment. PDR clearly weakens their control."