A Gatwick chief has told a high-level debate hosted by the Mayor of London that a second runway at the airport would “complete the compass” of the capital’s regeneration.

David McMillan, Gatwick Airport non-executive director and former UK director general of Civil Aviation, said another runway at Gatwick would bring a huge jobs and business boost, and citing West, North and most lately East London's impact on the capital, said a second runway added up to “the south's time to shine.”

Mr McMillan was speaking at the “Shaping a growing London: the place of an airport” event.

Highlighting the influence of North and West London, as well as the continued growth of East London, he argued that only expansion at Gatwick would bring the capital’s transformation full-circle by delivering an Olympic-style boost to South London. Stressing Gatwick expansion as best placed to meet the changing needs of future aviation, he said: “The UK’s next runway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only tackle the country’s future aviation needs, but to also drive widespread regeneration and economic benefits where they are needed most.”

He continued: “With North and West London already well-established, and the East beginning to prosper from a post-Olympics boost, the runway debate offers the South a long-overdue time to shine.

“Throughout South London areas like Croydon, Lewisham, Merton and Wandsworth present the clear need and opportunity for regeneration and development. “Expansion at Gatwick would be the perfect catalyst, creating thousands of new jobs and business opportunities across the south and completing the compass of London’s regeneration.”

Mr McMillan added: “Like London itself, aviation is constantly evolving, so the capital needs a flexible airport solution to meet the changing needs of the future. “An expanded Gatwick does exactly that and is the only option to offer a flexible future-proofed solution for the growth of all airline models. “A second runway would also create lower fares, greater choice and more travel opportunities on the routes Londoners want to fly on, without the noise and impact of more flights over the capital.

“From the future growth of the capital to the changing needs of aviation, expansion at Gatwick is the right choice for London and the UK.”

Mr McMillan's words were echoed by Sir Terry Farrell CBE, considered to be the UK’s leading architect planner.

He said: “By providing a second runway at Gatwick we would create a much more balanced airports system that will positively affect the whole of the UK’s infrastructure. “It is a really big idea which follows the way the world is going with ‘smart cities’ using digital technology to connect up systems and networks. “When we have this amazing opportunity for economic growth which is deliverable, avoids creating a monopoly and makes the least impact environmentally, it is our responsibility to make the right decision for the country’s future. “A new runway at Heathrow is the wrong choice, as is any other option that causes Heathrow to close, so the answer is obviously Gatwick.”