The first phase of the Ministry of Defence's £2bn Colchester Garrison PFI could be ready six months early, and the £5bn Allenby and Connaught barracks PFI should finally reach financial close in the spring.

In an interview with Building this week, vice admiral Peter Dunt, chief executive of Defence Estates, said that the Sir Robert McAlpine-led team on Colchester Garrison had told the MoD that the scheme might be able to accommodate soldiers in May. It had been due to open in November, but a source close to the contractor's consortium, which includes Atkins and Sodexho, confirmed there was a chance it would open earlier.

However, the source warned that, with more than 70 buildings in the scheme, there was still the possibility of delays. The source said: "It could be five-and-a-half months early. But something a little bit wrong might take a while to turn right."

The Allenby and Connaught scheme, in Aldershot and Salisbury Plain, has been delayed for years, but it was hoped that contractor Mowlem, which is in the process of being bought by rival Carillion, and consortium partner Kellogg Brown & Root would reach financial close with the MoD by Christmas.

There were difficulties placing the bond

Vice admiral Peter Dunt

Dunt said: "There were difficulties placing the bond. It is quite a complex PFI. Financial close should be reached in the spring."

Dunt also revealed that the two suppliers associations set up by Defence Estates last year - one for its main construction contractors, the other for its utility companies - will hold a joint meeting next month. The two groups share common problems in their contracts as they are run along broadly similar geographic lines.