Christopher Haydon has announced he will be stepping down from the Gate Theatre next year.

On 14 June, the Notting Hill theatre revealed that Haydon would leave in January 2017 after a five-year tenure as artistic director. He is moving onto freelance directing projects.

Haydon described the role as “one of the best jobs in British theatre”, but said: “I feel like a lot of the energy of that building comes from somebody doing it for the first time, working it all out.

“After five years at the helm I believe it is now time to pass the baton on to someone new – to take this remarkable, tiny yet epic room, and make it their own.”

Haydon will continue programming work up until May 2017.

Joseph Smith, chair of the Gate Theatre Board, said: “Put simply, Chris has been a brilliant artistic director for the Gate Theatre.

“He’s led the organisation with a clear, uncompromising vision that has rigorously debated many of the important issues of our time.”

Haydon’s renowned productions at the Gate included Grounded, which was an award winning show and toured to Europe and the States, and more recently the European premiere of Eclipsed by Danai Gurira.

Since taking over in 2012, new voices have been central to the Gate’s performances with premieres of Lucas Hnath’s The Christians and Elinor Cook’s Image of an Unknown Young Woman.

Discovering emerging talent is something Haydon will miss: “The thing that I love most about the Gate is not programming the work, that’s the second best thing. The best thing is able to discover extraordinary people and give them an opportunity in which they can flourish.”

Haydon did not disclose any further details on his upcoming freelance work but commented that his ambition is getting to a point where he needs bigger spaces.

The post of artistic director at the Gate will be advertised shortly.