More than 3000 houses could be built on a former Auckland air base under a plan resurrected by Housing New Zealand.

The Hobsonville air base sits on the edge of the upper Waitemata Harbour near the Auckland suburb of Greenhithe but has not been used for several years.

Housing New Zealand has now dusted off an old plan to develop the site and build 3000 houses, including 500 state houses, National Radio reported today.

The plan would include stand-alone houses, apartments, shops and schools and the marine development of the water's edge.

The base has a long wartime and military history and was the base of the air force's World War 2 flying boats.

Several historic air force buildings would stay on the site and the wharf would be upgraded for ferry traffic under Housing New Zealand's plan.

However, local National MP John Key said Hobsonville was a pristine piece of land and there was the opportunity to build "something pretty good there."

He said to put state houses on $500,000 sections was "economic vandalism" which had the potential to turn the area into a ghetto.

Hobsonville residents said a large scale development could reduce the value of the area by introducing residents who failed to look after their properties.

It is planned to hold a series of public forums over the next few months.

Greens' housing spokeswoman Sue Bradford said: "There is no reason that state house tenants should not be able to live near the water on prime real estate.

"Why should they be bundled off to the back blocks like 2nd class citizens - out of sight and out of mind?"