One of the first actions of the New Labour government in 1997 was to reassess the extent of privatisation and competitive tendering in local government, it was careful not to rule it out completely, stating instead that it had an 'open mind' on whether public services should be delivered by the public or private sectors through the 'Best Value' initiative. In addition, legislation was passed in June 1997 that clarified and strengthened the role of local authorities entering into contracts with private companies. Planning is left with a legacy it is largely unaware of, and which has potentially altered the practice of public planning within the UK. This paper draws on the results of a detailed survey of 355 local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, prior to local-government reorganisation, that sought to investigate the extent, reasons for and future of privatising and contracting out planning services in local authorities. The survey demonstrates that significant proportions of local planning Authorities' work is now contracted out and that this trend is set to continue, notwithstanding the lack of compulsion. The paper then goes on to explore the implications of this for planning, planners and the communities they serve.