A leading South Hams councillor for housing has expressed deep misgivings over the Devon devolution deal, claiming it could have a negative impact on affordable homes outside Torbay.

Speaking at a recent council meeting in Kingsbridge, Denise O’Callaghan, lead executive member for housing at South Hams District Council (SHDC), said: “We get a lot of funding from central government for housing and the worry is that the money will end up in Torbay, which is a very deprived area.

“They should get money, but will it be to the detriment for the rest of us? We have our own issues, with second homes and low wages and high house prices. Will we be getting a fair share of the money available?” she asked.

The devolution deal proposes the creation of a combined authority involving Devon County Council (DCC) and Torbay council, a decision-making body that would see powers such as housing and transport being transferred from Whitehall to the county. The aim is also to help unlock the area’s economic potential.

A six-week consultation process ended at the weekend (March 24), with the findings being considered by both councils next month.

Cllr O’Callaghan however warned about increased red-tape, adding that DCC and Torbay would be dominant partners, as eight smaller boroughs and districts “don’t get much of a say”.

She said: “Just from a housing perspective, I wouldn’t be happy at all. It’s an extra layer of bureaucracy without much of a mandate. More specifically, we (SHDC) deliver affordable housing, (but) no-one’s speaking to us properly about it. We’re told what they’re suggesting will happen is that DCC and Torbay Council are the main figures in this. They’re both Conservative controlled and they both have a lot of financial issues.”

Her comments coincide with Totnes town council’s own concerns about the proposed devolution deal. In a recent statement, it questioned the suggested economic benefits and added that the new authority would create “an unacceptable democratic deficit”.

In another development, SHDC launched its own housing offer this month, intended to provide funding to kick-start housing projects in areas most in need of affordable homes.