The latest figures show that the percentage of all major applications approved within the normally expected four month time period fell back from 33.6% in 2010-11 to 29.9% in 2011-12. Meanwhile, the proportion of major housing applications approved within four months fell from 30.8% to 24.8% over that same period.
Scottish Building Federation chief executive Michael Levack commented: "In the current climate, when overall construction activity has substantially reduced, we would have hoped to see an acceleration in planning decisions to get more shovels into the ground on new projects and help sustain the industry. That's why it's so disappointing to see that the proportion of major applications being determined on time has actually fallen back over the past 12 months.
"The additional £100m of economic stimulus announced by the Scottish Government this week is hugely welcome in generating additional future work for the construction sector. But, the impact of this investment risks substantial damage and delay if the planning process fails to deliver timely decisions on the individual projects where this money will be invested.
"Scotland's planning authorities need to redouble their efforts to streamline the decision-making process or risk seriously hampering recovery in the building industry," Mr Levack stated.