Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) is set to appoint a group of advisers to help it develop the area around the Union station of Dubai Metro into an ‘iconic transit hub’.

The authority is set to award the contract to a consortium led by the UK’s Ernst & Young (E&Y).

The RTA had initially started seeking an adviser to help it develop a plan for the project in January 2012, and around a month later, it asked three of the firms that pitched for the mandate to rebid. It is now understood to be in final negotiations with the E&Y consortium.

Bidders were asked to come up with three proposals for the development of the area around the Union metro station in Deira. The plan was to create a mixed-use area that included retail space and services as a transport hub for people passing through the area using the RTA’s metro, bus and taxi services.

One of the biggest tasks for the advisers will be evaluating if the project can be developed as a public-private partnership (PPP) and attracting private sector interest in the scheme. If it goes ahead on that basis, it would be one of the first PPP schemes in the emirate, after the RTA scrapped an earlier plan to develop a system of water buses along the coastline of Dubai using a PPP.