Introducing the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals review of the year, he praised Highland Council for examining its development plan and "reaping the rewards by being better able to adopt its local plans far more quickly".
But he added: "More can be done and all players must improve performance. If we are to have a truly plan-led system we must see a significant increase in the speed of development planning."
The directorate dealt with 777 appeals in 2009-10, down from 1,049 the previous year. It attributed this fall to the new local review bodies and the downturn. However, appeals for wind farms doubled.
The directorate missed its target of deciding 80 per cent of appeals involving local inquiries within 38 weeks, achieving only 61 per cent.