The number of planning applications for commercial building fell by 15% in 2008-09 and fewer than half of all major bids were being processed within four months, figures from the Scottish Government have shown.
Large business and industry applications were approved or rejected within the four-month target at a rate of 46.1%.
The previous year 49.1% were processed within the target time and in 2006-07 a rate of 54.5% was reached.
Over the two years between 2007-08 and 2008-09, the number of major applications fell from 527 to 467.
But a bosses organisation has demanded more favourable treatment from local authorities.
The assistant director of CBI Scotland, David Lonsdale, said: “Government and planning authorities need to get a firm grip on the situation if performance is to be enhanced across the board. Greater weight needs to be given to the needs of the economy when considering planning applications, with a greater presumption in favour of development built into our planning system.”
He claimed councils need incentives “to support economic development”.