Thanks for the replies, and sorry for my delayed response.
The doghouse approach is ingenious! Of course it didn't occur to me
If it's helpful to anyone, I ended up prying the hood up slightly with 2 wedges of wood, and then used a wrench to unbolt the hood latch. The attached pic has a small yellow screwdriver pointing to one of the 2 bolts removed.
The cause was the cable disconnected from the latch for no apparent reason. The cable was undamage and reconnected, I have however installed a piece of string accessible through the grille to release the hood if the cable disconnects again.
(Sorry can't figure out how to attach a picture. If anyone's in need feel free to message me, and I'll email it to you.)