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Nelson's Dockyard in line to become Antigua's first World Heritage Site

The globe's only working Georgian dockyard could soon become Antigua and Barbuda's first World Heritage Site after UNESCO's advisory body backed a bid for it to be added to the list.

Nelson's Dockyard in line to become Antigua's first World Heritage Site

One of the eastern Caribbean's most historic sites, Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua, has come a step closer to receiving World Heritage status after UNESCO's advisory body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), recommended it be inscribed to the prestigious list.

The former British naval dockyard is the only working Georgian-era dockyard in the world and has an impressive set of preserved buildings. It was named after Lord Horatio Nelson, who was stationed there early in his career.

The area recommended for the UNESCO list includes the dockyard and the former military installations at Shirley Heights and the Blockhouse. Dow fort, which has been converted into the Interpretation Centre telling the story of Antigua, is also included within the park's boundaries.

The decision to back Nelson's Dockyard National Park's bid for world heritage status comes after ICOMOS inspectors visited the small Caribbean island last year to evaluate the site. This is part of the final stages of assessment.

ICOMOS representatives assessed the dockyard's management, facilities and the current boundaries of the National Park to ensure they comply with UNESCO's world heritage framework. The historic buildings and structures of Nelson's Dockyard were also closely inspected.

In a report detailing the findings of its evaluation, ICOMOS made a series of recommendations to improve the area ahead of its approval as an official World Heritage Site. Its chief proposal was for the Antiguan government to institute a new Heritage Act as soon as possible. It said the current land use plan needs to be revised and the management plan needs to shift its focus from development towards conservation and maintenance of the area's historic structures.

The UNESCO advisory body has also advised Antigua's National Park's Authority that building guidelines for archaeological structures need to be tightened, Heritage Impact Assessments should be carried out for all projects in the area, and the carrying capacity of the harbour should be measured.

Nelson's Dockyard has been on UNESCO's tentative World Heritage list for a few years awaiting evaluation. It is one of the island's most popular tourist attractions and, if approved, it will become Antigua's first World Heritage Site.

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