Sustainable development asks for open planning processes. Such open planning processes have become common practice in the Netherlands and other Western countries. Since EU accession, new member states such as Bulgaria also have to face the challenge of organizing more open planning processes in their search for a more sustainable future. The aim of this article is to reflect on the opportunities for and barriers to open planning processes in the Bulgarian context by assessing the results of the MyCoast project. The MyCoast project is an attempt to transfer the Dutch experiences with open planning processes to Bulgaria. The project aims to involve stakeholders in the development of a vision and strategy for a more sustainable Black Sea coastal zone. Our research revealed that the MyCoast project approach appeared to be completely new for the Bulgarian stakeholders involved and that several preconditions for success had yet to be met. The paper therefore concludes with some recommendations to enhance the opportunities for more open planning approaches in Bulgaria and other countries. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.