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Scottish construction hampered by sluggish planners

Scottish councils are routinely delaying planning decisions beyond their legally required length, despite a dramatic reduction in the number of people employed in construction.

In the three years to 2011, the total headcount in Scottish construction fell 17.2 per cent, yet in the same period Scottish councils delayed industry-boosting planning decisions in 7.1 per cent of cases.

According to a Scottish Building Federation report Glasgow City Council was the worst offender with 14.2 per cent of plannign decisions improperly delayed.

The new report, Scottish local authority statistics Key construction indicators, also revealed that every £100 spent by Scottish councils on capital projects in the period have unlocked £300 in added value to the local economy.

The body urged politicians fighting the upcoming local elections to make capital investment a cornerstone of their campaigns.

SBF chief Michael Levack said: “As this year’s local election campaign heats up, I hope this new report will enable candidates the length and breadth of the country to see the crucial contribution our industry continues to make as a major employer throughout Scotland. Having witnessed the loss of more than 41,000 jobs between 2007 and 2010, construction continues to employ more than 200,000 people across the country. With the right support, the industry has the potential to employ many thousands more over the coming years.”

Between 2007 and 2010, employment in the Scottish construction industry dropped by more than 41,000. Over that period, the industry in South Lanarkshire lost more than 6,500 jobs, while construction employment in West Dunbartonshire fell by 47%. Edinburgh has also been particularly hard hit, losing over 5,000 construction jobs – more than a quarter of all those employed in construction in the capital.

The report also shows the gross value added (GVA) of the construction industry significantly outstripping the value of local authority capital investment in most local authority areas in Scotland.

In Aberdeenshire, for every £100 of public funds invested in capital projects, the industry has delivered almost £730 of gross value added. Rates of construction GVA are also particularly high compared to levels of local public capital spending in Dumfries and Galloway and Dundee, where the industry is delivering close to £500 of added value for every £100 of local authority investment in capital projects.

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