The Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) has warned that the Land Development Agency bill could lead to a curbing of some functions of local councillors.

Appearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Councillor Mary Hoade, President of AILG, said that members were concerned that the bill, currently before the Oireachtas, will result in the "transfer of local authority land to a centralised agency", which she said would not be accountable to local authority representatives.

Ms Hoade called for a section of the bill to be removed, to ensure that councillors retain powers regarding the disposal of local authority owned land.

She said that her members were concerned that the Land Development Agency Bill does not "go far enough in protecting the primacy" of County and City Development plans.

AILG want local authorities to retain responsibility for setting the percentage of land to be set aside for affordable housing.

Councillor Hoade also said that if the LDA are disposing of land that they originally acquired from a local authority, then that local authority should have an option of "acquiring back those public lands".

The Land Development Agency has been in existence for a number of years now, however this bill would put the agency on a statutory footing.

In total, AILG are proposing 14 amendments to the LDA bill.

Councillor John Sheahan of the Local Authorities Members Association (LAMA) also raised concern about the powers that the Land Development Agency would have.

He said that LAMA cannot understand why more power is not devolved to Local Authorities, adding that the LDA should be there "to assist local authorities, provide expertise and step in if needed where that process is failing in a Local Authority".

Furthermore, Cllr Sheahan said that the LDA should have to seek the approval of Local Authority members, before embarking on projects in their area.

Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said it was important to strike a balance between giving the Land Development Agency "teeth to be able to deliver affordable homes", while also ensuring that the democratic powers of local councillors are protected.

Deputy Higgins expressed a view that councillors in towns with populations of 30,000 or less should have the power to dispose of lands because they would know the area best.

Emer Higgins said that "in towns like Ennis, in Naas, in Athlone, Wexford, Celbridge, Tralee, in those kinds of places", councillors should be able to decide what happens land in their area.

She said that the situation is different in Dublin, where it is generally accepted that most of the land is best used for housing.