Climate change presents one of the greatest challenges in urban development planning, yet leadership from planning can help society grapple with this challenge. Success in planning is especially important in coastal cities, where urbanization is heavily influenced by the coastline, and development planning processes have to take into consideration the socio-economic as well as ecological reasons why cities were located at the coast. This paper investigates the possibilities of and impediments to an integrated city-level planning framework that is responsive to climate change, using the case of the East African coastal city of Mombasa. It contends that both the principle of subsidiarity as well as the established law give the municipal government the necessary jurisdiction over the baseline issues underlying city management, which through stakeholder engagement, can be leveraged to facilitate an integrated climate change-responsive planning. Research highlights ► Leadership from planning can help society overcome some of the challenges posed by climate change. ► Planning systems in most low income countries do not favour an integrated planning approach. ► The powers and the central role of municipal authorities can be leveraged to facilitate an integrated climate change responsive planning. ► Achieving a citywide integrated plan that is responsive to climate change will require the involvement of stakeholders across scales.