There are old houses, and there are new houses – and then there are new houses built to look old, which is what The Maltings project is all about. Designed after traditional country barns, the development, situated on the outskirts of Biddenden, a picturesque village in the Kent countryside, could be cut straight from a fairytale.
Appearance is where the fantastical comparisons end, however, for these houses are unlikely to disappear in a puff of smoke. Old builds are gaining in popularity throughout the UK, with many prospective homeowners desiring the character and solidity associated with traditional architecture, paired with the comfortable amenities of new builds.
At The Maltings you get both, with timber cladding, red brick, steep roofs in brown tiling making up the facade; double-glazing,stainless steel, high ceilings, and open-plan living spaces the interior. The company behind the development, Millwood Designer Homes says its aim is “giving homebuyers the opportunity to own a high quality, low maintenance barn style property of their own, in a traditional rural location”.
Designing The Maltings, the company had to work with the feel of both the nearby village and the surrounding nature. “A key part of the design approach was to ensure that the transition of the site towards the existing farmland to the north reflected an agricultural character”, explains Jon Neville, director at Millwood. “These homes have been designed to take their character from traditional agricultural barns, incorporating black weatherboarding and large glazed openings. This ensures the development sits comfortably within the landscape”.
For many, a barn-style house is the pinnacle of how country life should look. “Buying a new build home with this design is a perfect way to achieve this way of life, without the costly outgoings that come with living in an older home”, says marketing director Phillip Brown. Barn conversions can be expensive and daunting; buying a new build negates the chance of unforeseen structural problems, promises greater energy efficiency, and offers a seamless transition.
The company, which has also built similar developments in Sussex and Surrey, is clearly looking to attract city workers to the commuter belt – a prospect that will be of greater pull after a year of lockdowns.
Leaving the city for the countryside does not mean being isolated: while traditional barn conversions are often remotely situated, attached to working farms in the middle of nowhere, The Maltings provides a ready-made community, with Millwood’s developments averaging 40 houses. The houses come in terraces, some of which are divided into apartments, as well as a range of detached properties with up to six bedrooms. Their names are nods to local areas and general bucolic themes, such as Mulberry, Stonebridge, Frimley, and Henley. “The Maltings” was inspired by Kent’s historic malthouses.
There are of course risks in this type of “old build”; that it will age and be looked on as kitsch, or that it ceases to be de rigueur. But Millwood made sure to avoid the cookie-cutter look of modern developments. “We tried to avoid having rows and rows of the same houses” says Pete Bland, associate director of design planning. Houses in the same price category have been designed with key structural differences, such as oak staircases, and larger reception rooms. Already proving popular with buyers relocating out of London for a lifestyle change, only one property remains uninhabited at The Maltings.
Real estate ‘cottagecore’ made flesh, the barn aesthetic will certainly appeal to well-heeled elder millennials looking to buy their first family home (the properties can be purchased through help-to-buy schemes). Offering ”period charm and flexible living accommodation for all the family”, the development has seen interest from young families and city dwellers in search of a change of scene.