This review paper takes a case study approach to critically discuss how regeneration in the coastal resort of Porthcawl, South Wales has integrated flood defences as part of a strategic spatial planning and integrated policy coupling approach to the redesign of the town's seaside, promenade and harbour quarter. This planned initiative is part of a concerted effort to upgrade the town's waterfront and enable regeneration of a small seaside resort. From a resort cycle perspective, Porthcawl's perceived vulnerability to changing economic fortunes has prompted a master planning approach which is intended to bring together a mixed-use development programme with particular attention to urban design, strategic environmental assessment and public consultation. In different ways, this process has sought to raise public awareness of the issues and risks associated with the town's coastal location and to integrate flood defence aspects within the strategic regeneration plan as part of a greater sensitivity to climatic risks and potential flooding. This paper examines the adaptive capacity of coastal communities and the complex of socio-economic and spatio-temporal perspectives that shape policy developments in the planning, development and proactive management of coastal environments. The paper identifies the need to accommodate a new civic awareness of potential environmental hazards in articulating the public interest and balancing the trade-offs involved.