HALIFAX -- A Halifax-area community settled by black refugees who escaped enslavement in the United States two centuries ago has been named a provincial heritage property.

The settlement in Beechville contains land plots settled by black refugees during the War of 1812.

Tony Ince, the minister of African Nova Scotia Affairs, announced the designation under the Heritage Property Act during a ceremony Tuesday at Beechville Baptist Church.

A developer has proposed a subdivision in the area, and the community had sought the heritage designation.

The province says it will ensure "the defining elements of the site's character are preserved for future generations."

According to the Beechville Baptist Church web site, the first Black Loyalists arrived in 1816, and the province granted the refugees 1,000 acres of land.

Ince said the heritage recognition acknowledges the settlement's ties to the African Nova Scotian community "and a place that contributes to our province's shared history."

"Designating this site as a historical property is another proud day for us in Beechville," Danielle Wright, a resident of the community, said in a statement released by the province.

"We are honoured that many from our senior generation are here to witness their long-time efforts contributing to this significant announcement."