Gated communities have grown significantly in many parts of the world, including South Africa. This paper focuses on gated communities in the City of Tshwane. The discussion is based on a study carried out between 2013 and 2014 on enclosed neighbourhoods – a type of gated community – and the processes involved to apply for permission to close off existing neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods are used as a lens to highlight the challenges facing the planning practice and the consequent tensions that emerged due to conflicting rationalities and deep differences between the various stakeholders. Planners are caught in the middle. The paper indicates that planners are aware of the tensions but have limited means to address them due to strong political pressure, emotional upheaval from community members and a restricted legal base. This has several implications for both planning theory and practice.