Residents who have turned what they thought was a Sheffield Council-owned meadow into a wildlife haven could now be barred from the site.
A dispute in ownership of Gully Meadows, Beauchief, has broken out between Sheffield Council and Abbeydale Golf Club.
The club claims it was bequeathed the site and has put up signs stating ownership - but the council insists it still owns the land.
Now, the golf club says it could close the site to the public if it is deemed a health and safety risk.
Diana Holland, chairman of Beauchief Environment Group, said: “The area is maintained by a local environment group in concert with the Government and Sheffield Council. Just this year, a project to transfer wildflower seeds was undertaken, bird boxes were put on trees and a bench to commemorate a past group member was installed.”
She added: “Government money has paid for the dry stone walling, annual mowing, gates, bat and bird boxes.”
Coun Simon Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat councillor for Beauchief and Greenhill, added: “It’s a shame there has been such confusion over the future of the site and almost no dialogue with the local community.
“The council needs to act now and clarify the future of this beloved community asset.”
A spokesman for Abbeydale Golf Club said: “We have found that the land was bequeathed to us so have taken ownership.
“We have no plans for the site at present and are in discussions with our lawyers. We need to conduct a risk assessment for public liability insurance and would close access if a health and safety risk was found.”
Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “Investigations of our title show no record of the land in question having been sold or gifted to a third party since the council acquired the land in 1947.
“The council remains the owner of the land and will now work with the golf club to resolve this matter.”