Good practice social impact assessment (SIA) should lead to improved local community development outcomes. However, the social benefits alleged to flow from projects are often not as evident to affected communities as the project's adverse impacts. Projects still give inadequate attention to social issues and fail to achieve social development outcomes. Using a prominent gas project in Russia, the Nord Stream 2 project, as an illustrative example, we explore the potential of environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) to enhance the effectiveness of project contributions to local community development. We analyse the main steps of the community development process for the Nord Stream 2 project, and consider how it benefitted from the SIA process. We also reflect on the potential further contribution of SIA to community development. Even though SIA and community development are interrelated, we conclude that SIA, as currently practiced, is constrained in its ability to contribute to community development outcomes. Adjustments to the SIA and corporate social investment frameworks are needed to make them more effective in achieving social development outcomes.