A leading eco-architect has called for a dramatic rethink of planning along the Cottesloe beachfront amid forecasts that most of the iconic tourist spot could be washed away by the end of the century.
Ecotect Architects principal and Murdoch University adjunct professor Garry Baverstock said yesterday that a review of the area's geophysics found that the stretch of coastline between the Ocean Beach Hotel and Cottesloe Beach Hotel was mainly sand that sat on bedrock 7-10m down.
He said that under current modelling, the predicted 1m sea level rise would see the waterline shift, on average, 50m inland.
Professor Baverstock, who is looking at climate change as part of work for a 100-year vision for the beach, said the only thing that would stop the erosion would be a "dirty, big seawall" along the coast that would rob Cottesloe of its beach.
He said planning should instead allow for the beach to shift east, with a new primary sand dune system created.
He said a 20m to 30m buffer zone should also be established on Marine Parade where any development built in the next 50 years was limited to two storeys with buildings that could be deconstructed "at some stage when the erosion really hits" and the road needed realigning.
Professor Baverstock said the Town of Cottesloe's yet to be finalised new town planning scheme was "ethically, morally and legally wrong" because it did not account for climate change.
Cottesloe mayor Kevin Morgan said the council wanted to ensure that foreshore redevelopment took into account climate change but community opinion on the topic was not at a stage where "we're about to start moving private property".
A spokesman for Planning Minister John Day said the WA Planning Commission continued to study and assess coastal vulnerability.