A man faces eviction from the “home” he has built at the side of railway tracks after losing a legal battle with the council.

Leo Fieran, 55, claims he has been living on the land at the end of Camley Street near St Pancras station continuously since 2007, having arrived in the UK from Romania three years earlier.

Representing himself at Central London County Court on Friday (January 26), he told a judge that over the years he had seen “junkies with syringes” and “prostitution” in the area, so resolved to “keep it tidy”.

He applied to the Land Registry to gain official ownership of the land in 2021, citing the principle of adverse possession, which allows someone to claim another person's land by openly using it without permission for more than a decade.  

After this was rejected, Camden Council obtained a possession order for the site in 2022.

The authority plans to build 350 new homes and 200,000 square feet of new workspaces in Camley Street. The site is mentioned in its new draft local plan.

Mr Fieran tried to appeal against the order that year, but was told he had not done so within the 21 days allowed by law.

He went before His Honour Judge Freeland QC in court on Friday in the hope of an extension for this application and permission to appeal the original ruling.

Mr Fieran argued that he only submitted the appeal “quite late” because he was seeking legal advice on the original possession order.

Ham & High: The entrance to the Camden Council land where Leo Fieran says he has been living since 2007The entrance to the Camden Council land where Leo Fieran says he has been living since 2007 (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

He claimed he was advised to wait for the judgement in writing “to better formulate” his appeal.

Despite citing the fact that English is not his first language as a reason he wished to wait for a written judgment, Mr Fieran acknowledged that he had understood the effect of the original possession order at the time.

Representing Camden Council, Brooke Lyne at Landmark Chambers argued that a written judgement is “not usual” in such cases, describing the delay in lodging the initial appeal “a serious breach”.

She added: “Either he misunderstood the advice, or the advice given was wrong.”

Ham & High: Leo Fieran in Camley Street, CamdenLeo Fieran in Camley Street, Camden (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

Ms Lyne also asked that Mr Fieran be ordered to pay £2,000 in costs for her preparation and attendance at court – but Judge Freeland KC declined to do so.

In his ruling, the judge said despite having “sympathy” for Mr Fieran, there was “no good reason” for the delay in lodging an appeal.

The judge also ruled that even if the extension was allowed, there was no prospect of successfully appealing the possession order, and no other compelling reason why permission should be granted.

Ham & High: A crucifix on the fence outside the Camden Council land in Camley Street where Leo Fieran says he has lived since 2007A crucifix on the fence outside the Camden Council land in Camley Street where Leo Fieran says he has lived since 2007 (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

Mr Fieran had argued that the time he lived at the site as well as the “encouragements” he believed he had received from Camden Council to clean up the “former wasteland”, would be persuasive at appeal.

He claimed that Camden Council was “happy” that he cleaned up the land – which he describes as “his home” – arguing this could give him ownership rights as he was led to believe that he had an interest in the site.

But Judge Freeland ruled that as the Land Registry had not given him the deed and “encouragement” is not sufficient to claim an interest in a piece of land, an appeal on these grounds had “no real prospect” of success.

In practical terms, the decision means that Mr Fieran has no more legal routes to challenge the 2022 ruling in favour of Camden Council.

However, Camden has since brought a second claim of possession over the land, after Mr Fieran returned to live on it following an initial eviction in March 2023. 

The 55-year-old has since asked to appeal this claim, and may continue to do so despite his legal defeat on Friday.