ABSTRACT: Coastal zones exhibit higher habitat and biodiversity values and also a multitude of economic, residential and recreational demands, compared to inland and open sea. Major pressure on the coast is exerted from both the concentration and dispersal of population and activities. Consequently, a big problem is the “artificialization” of the coast, manifested with urban sprawl and congestion of infrastructure and activities. This has led to emergent governance challenges as land use conflicts, natural and human-induced hazards, environmental degradation including water pollution, coastal erosion, etc., and ultimately to loss of habitats and of biological diversity. This paper presents an overview of both the physical landscape expression of coastal artificialization processes and related planning responses, aiming to tackle the problem from different angles. The final part of the paper presents a proposed analytical framework for case-study research and adduces examples from a case-study in Western Crete, carried out in the framework of ECONET-COHAST (an INTERREG IIIB/ARCHIMED project).