Government plans to revive council housing may need to be approved by parliament before they can go ahead.

Yvette Cooper, the housing minister, told MPs on the communities and local government select committee this week that she is examining whether legislation is required to change financial rules that make it difficult for councils to build homes.

She said that the housing revenue account (HRA) regulations needed to be “tweaked” but that she hoped that any changes would not require full parliamentary approval.

Cooper was giving evidence to a hearing into the housing green paper, which includes a proposal to encourage councils to build homes as its centrepiece. The consultation period for the green paper ends on Monday.

She said: “The way that the HRA operates makes it very hard for councils to build homes. We are looking at ways to get around that.”

She added that eight councils had qualified to receive development grants from the Housing Corporation. The government is to pump £8bn into building affordable housing over the next three years. But she added that more ambitious moves to allow councils to opt out of the national HRA subsidy system would be difficult to introduce.

Proposals to build housing on green-belt land were being considered by the government’s environmental advisory body on Wednesday. The board of Natural England met to discuss the plans, which could lead to previously untouchable areas being developed with eco-friendly housing schemes.