This paper investigates the tension between the implementation of urban policy in the UK and global trends in culture and lifestyle as represented by the development of gated communities. It concludes that gated communities represent globalised trends in consumer aspirations which contradict stated urban policy. This raises important questions about the role of planning authorities. Government urban policy in Britain currently focuses on three key themes; social exclusion, partnership and balanced communities of mixed tenure. Concern has shifted from poor people to poor places (Watt and Jacobs, 1999) as poverty and deprivation have become increasingly concentrated in specific areas. The problem of social exclusion is to be addressed through partnership working and the creation of mixed communities (SEU, 1998). Nothing less than an urban renaissance is needed, to revive city centres through high density, mixed tenure 'urban villages' (DETR, 1999). The ideal of social balance is a dominant feature of government policy documents.