WHEN The Herald began conversations with the business community for its special focus on the changing nature of Scotland’s cities earlier this year, one theme recurred more than any other.

We found widespread and deep-seated concern among professionals across the commercial property sector and beyond about the effects budget cuts at council level were having on the country’s economic development.

Leading business figures told us the strain on key local authority functions was grinding the planning process to a near-halt, leading to fears that much needed private investment from the UK and overseas would be directed to opportunities outside Scotland.

There was no feeling that the councils themselves were to blame.

While no one was lining up to say the planners were perfect, there was a general acknowledgement that council departments were doing their best to provide a service with one hand tied behind their back.

Against that backdrop, the commitment by Glasgow City Council to shore up its ranks of planning, housing and building standards professionals is to be welcomed. The investment in 45 new jobs should rightly be expected to deliver improved and more efficient services not only for firms which have lodged plans to expand, but better equip the council to handle the billions of pounds of public and private investment lined up for the city in the coming years.

Ultimately, only time will tell if the recruitment makes a meaningful difference, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.