The role of community groups in influencing the direction of urban planning and development in the UK has changed over time. In spite of formal mechanisms for consultation and 'public participation introduced ill the 1970s, the main channels for community influence have often been through conflict and confrontation. Oppositional strategies have occasionally been effective, but they act as a relatively 'blunt instrument' for communicating local needs and priorities in the planning and development process. In recent years, there has been a strong move towards the formation of partnerships, particularly in urban regeneration, and this has brought community groups and other voluntary organistions into the process in more direct ways. Partnership organisations have combined central and local government, community and voluntary groups, and business and commercial interests on an area or project basis, and appear to have forged an unprecedented cross-sectoral consensus. It is, however, not clear that this apparently consensual approach is achieving more for community interests than the old ways of conflict and protest. This paper explores these issues in the context of a case study of planning and development on London's South Bank. In 1986, after a decade of active opposition and open conflict, and a vigorous popular planning process, community groups in the Waterloo district on a famous victory over property developers and gained control of several prominent sites. They formed a non_profit company, Coin Street Community Builders, and proceeded with a plan to develop these sites. In recent years, CSCB has joined in partnerships with local employers, central and local government, in successful bids for urban regeneration funds for a variety of projects on the South Bank. The paper examines the Coin Street story to give a critical interpretation of the changed role of community organisations in the Waterloo area. It asks if the shift from conflict to partnership is a Faustian exchange, from which the community can only lose in the long run, or a realistic means of bringing community and popular interests into the planning and development process.