The Scottish Building Federation (SBF) has today (24 July) welcomed new figures showing the average time taken to determine major planning applications was 12 days quicker in 2013/14 than during the previous year.

Despite this promising figure, at 34.6 weeks the new average remains more than double the four-month period recommended by Scottish government guidance. Only five of Scotland's 34 planning authorities reported average decision periods for major applications below the 16-week target. The worst performing authority was Aberdeenshire, where major applications took an average 53.9 weeks to be determined during 2013/14.

SBF has said the figures emphasise the importance of sustaining investment in council planning departments to deal with a rising volume of planning applications as the economy continues to recover.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: "It's encouraging that average decision times for planning applications in Scotland are continuing to speed up. But as the economy continues to recover, we can easily anticipate that the volume of large scale planning applications will increase and with that the pressure on planning authorities to process these as efficiently as possible.

"We recognise the huge financial pressure local authorities are under and the impact this has had on council planning departments. But to remove what could otherwise be a critical obstacle to recovery in the construction sector, investment in the capacity of planning authorities to process applications efficiently is absolutely vital."