This article outlines the overall approach to community based planning (CBP) in South Africa ( part of DFID funded action research project covering Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and South Africa) as well as some of the experiences of using CBP in Mangaug Municipality in South Africa, one of the early partners in the project. The article takes this further, describing this experience in some detail, as well as the lessons that have been learnt as CBP has been rolled out to eight municipalities during 2003-4. It explains participatory structures within municipalities focusing on the role of Ward Committees; the legal basis for participation; and CBP in the context of the planning system in South Africa. It goes on to describe the application of CBP grated development plans (IDPs) in Mangaug depicting the planning methodology and evaluating the initial results on ward committees, municipal integrated development plans and service provision. Community empowerment, ownership of the ward development agenda and processes, and shift towards local development initiatives in the municipal IDP, were some of the main initial results. The Mangaug project led to a national workshop held in 2002 where a national steering committee was established to scale up the experience. The elements in scaling up included the establishment a national coalition of government, donors, municipalities and service providers; developing methodological guidelines; piloting; training of facilitators; and securing resources. Emphasis was also put on strengthening the linkages between CBP and IDP. Finally some of the key lessons are summarised, together with comments by project facilitators and the future of the project.