Families had the chance to spend Christmas in their new affordable homes in Plumpton Green after a development was built for villagers or those with a strong local connection.
The 14 local families received keys to their properties on Wednesday December 17 during a celebratory event attended by councillors.
A lack of smaller homes and council housing in the village means residents are forced to move out to Haywards Heath or Burgess Hill.
The trend in the village over the last 20 years has been for large executive homes to be built with four or five bedrooms, Plumpton parish councillor Reg Stone explained.
In addition the village is an hour away from London by train, increasing prices.
To qualify for the homes residents needed to be on the waiting list for a council home.
Chairman of Plumpton Parish Council Paul Nicholson said: “The Parish Council has worked hard for almost five years to steer this project through and secure affordable homes for local people and today is a cause for celebration.”
One of the first tenants to receive the keys was Katie Stenning, who grew up in Plumpton, where her late father, Ray Harland, was the head groundsman at the racecourse.
When the keys were handed over to her she burst into tears of joy. “It’s wonderful. I’m so happy,” she said.
The development was built by Hastoe Housing Association and Lewes District Council.
Cllr Stone, who chaired Plumpton Parish Council’s working group, added: “This development is the culmination of some hard work and determination to secure badly needed affordable housing for local people.
“It was made possible by genuine and strong teamwork between Action in Rural Sussex (AIRS), Lewes District Council and Hastoe Housing Association and what a great Christmas present for the 14 lucky families.”
Cllr Clare Eastwood, part of the working group which developed the idea, was equally enthusiastic.
District councillor Sarah Osborne added: “Plumpton Parish Council can be proud of this great achievement and the benefits it will bring to local families.”
The development at the centre of the village is called Sun Close and is a mix of houses and flats, 12 of which are rented and two in shared ownership.
Of the 14 families who moved in, 13 were either living in Plumpton or had strong local connections and one came from an adjacent village.
Consultations by the parish council with villagers revealed a demand for homes of one or two bedrooms both for young people starting out and for older people looking to downsize. Plumpton Parish councillor Reg Stone said the neighbhourhood plan would inform Lewes District Council and local developers about the demand for smaller homes.
He explained a lot of the council housing in Plumpton had been sold off under the right to buy scheme, leaving very little council housing in the village.
The new affordable housing is pegged at 80 per cent of the market value.