Views of York Minster "could become a thing of the past", according to the city's Labour councillors.
The government is planning to change regulations to allow up to two extra storeys to be added to buildings without planning permission.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said developers should be encouraged to "build upwards" to get more homes completed.
Councillor Claire Douglas said she was "extremely worried" about the move.
According to the Local Democracy Report Service, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government report said the policy would deliver more affordable homes.
The ministry said developers would also be able to knock down empty buildings and replace them with homes "without getting delayed in a lengthy planning process".
Ms Douglas said the policy was another example of taking planning powers from local councils and putting "them in the hands of the government department".
"We can expect to see the long-held objective to maintain Minster views in York put under significant pressure, as developers take advantage of the government's latest move towards a planning free-for-all," she said.
She said increasing the height of blocks could "significantly impact on people's enjoyment of where they live".
She added: "Minster views may well become a thing of the past for many residents, if this slackening of planning powers is fully exploited."
The government said it expected the changes to be introduced in summer.