The building of 40 new houses, half of which will be social houses, on a $12.75m Mt Albert plot of land is expected to begin early next year - almost five years after its last tenants moved out.

The land at 33 Asquith Ave has been mired in controversy since news of its redevelopment was first aired.

As Housing New Zealand gradually unveiled its plans for the site local residents have frequently aired concerns over its scale, size, look and the sluggish pace of the development.

When HNZ revealed its plans for the site earlier this year, it claimed work would get under way in October - November this year.

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As December drew near HNZ was only able to confirm it was in the "contract negotiation phase", but expected building on the land would start early next year.

General manager of asset development Patrick Dougherty said once this was signed off developers for the 8094sq m property would be announced.

Dougherty said earthworks at the property would begin in February next year, with the building of the 40 new homes expected to start towards the end of March.

HNZ has owned the land, which was once where the Mt Albert Grammar School hostel was until the late 1960s, for several decades.

A bird's-eye view of 33 Asquith Ave before the properties were demolished. Photo / Google Earth
A bird's-eye view of 33 Asquith Ave before the properties were demolished. Photo / Google Earth

Work transforming the land, which this year grew $3.55m in rateable value since the 2014 valuations, into a mixed-housing development, was expected to be completed in mid-2019.

Artists' impressions of the housing project showed a cluster of homes around a central green courtyard on the block of land that sits at the corner of Asquith Ave and Burch Street.

Dougherty said in total 40 homes would be built - 20 of these would be one-bedroom properties for HNZ tenants, with the remainder being sold on to the private market.

Qv.co.nz showed the median home value in Mt Albert was $1.088m - of the 30 homes sold in the past three months most sold for 40 per cent more than the RV.

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The Asquith Ave project was one of a number HNZ was working on to replace its aged buildings.

It comes under the Auckland Housing Programme which has set a goal of delivering 11,000 new social homes across the next 10 years, alongside just over 12,600 new affordable and market homes.