In an attempt to provide more sustainable and environmentally acceptable coastal defence options, engineers and policy-makers alike are increasingly turning to ‘softer’ approaches such as managed realignment. However, gaining public acceptance of managed realignment schemes can be challenging given that the local communities often view managed realignment as ‘giving in’ to the sea (Coastal defences: processes, problems and solutions. UK, Routledge, 2001). By studying public perceptions, engineers, planners and policy-makers will have a better understanding of the public's reactions, concerns and issues of managed realignment, which not only fills the existing research gap but also promotes public awareness and knowledge alongside the consultation process. This paper reviews findings from a pilot study conducted at a public exhibition and meeting in Brancaster, North Norfolk. Questionnaire surveys were used to collect the data and address three main research objectives (1) to gain an insight into the locals’ perceptions of flooding in Brancaster; (2) to assess their awareness of the managed realignment scheme; and (3) identify the main issues that they considered to be important. The results demonstrated that many variables influence public perceptions of managed realignment, including personal experience, lack of information and media influence. The study concludes that while there is no formula to calculate which variables come into play, researching public perception towards managed realignment projects must be addressed by following a case-by-case approach.