"Conditional permits" require architects to be retained for a project’s life.

"Conditional permits" require architects to be retained for a project’s life.

LOCAL councils are increasingly using ''conditional permits'' on larger, more complex inner-city buildings that require developers to retain the architect for the life of the project.

Port Phillip, Darebin, Moreland and Yarra councils are leading the trend towards mandating architects' ongoing involvement in buildings they are originally commissioned to create.

A specific permit condition prescribing the ''ongoing involvement of the architect'' throughout the construction phase was first introduced by Yarra Council in 2008.

Since then the practice has spread across inner-urban areas.

It has also become common overseas. Architects and local authorities in Britain use a ''Section 106 Agreement'' to impose financial penalties on projects that fail to employ an architect for the length of a project.

A spokeswoman for Yarra Council said no figures were available on the number of permits issued with that specific condition, but they were in place on most large projects.

''The intended purpose is to maintain the integrity of the project for the duration of the development,'' the spokeswoman said.

Melbourne architecture firm Rothelowman has been involved with four projects where it is the stipulated architect on the planning permit. They include developer Hamton's 600-apartment Haven and Eden development under construction in Victoria Street, Abbotsford.

''I think it's a good thing,'' managing principal Shane Rothe said.

''Councils are doing it … to improve the design outcome and to ensure that the extensive amount of money spent by councils approving such designs and administering them, end up being the way they should be,'' Mr Rothe said. ''The community benefits.''

Planning permits often require a lengthy process of negotiation between architects, consultants and local government planning officers to get a mutually acceptable development.

In some cases once a development has gained a permit, the project is sold and another architect or draughtsman is appointed to finish the process.

''The built outcome in some cases might be significantly different to what was approved in the first instance,'' said Jon Clement, the Victorian chapter president of the Australian Institute of Architects.

There were plenty of examples of the built outcome being significantly inferior to the design specified on the original planning permit, Mr Clement said.

''The ongoing involvement of the architect from concept design and planning stages through to construction and completion stages encourages quality control from end-to-end,'' Yarra Council said.