The removal of two cash machines from a closed Johnstone bank will now go ahead after an appeal was successful.

A request for planning permission by NatWest Group, owner of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), to extract the ATMs and night safe from its former branch in Church Street, which closed in August, was refused by councillors.

In May, elected members on the planning board agreed doing so would prove “detrimental” to the economic life of the town centre and undermine aspects of the local development plan.

However, NatWest challenged the decision, with the banking giant’s appeal upheld by the Scottish Government on the grounds their removal would “minimise costs” for a future occupier and, in turn, limit the period of time the unit is vacant.

Councillor Andy Doig, who represents Johnstone North and the surrounding villages – and was the politician responsible for proposing the initial refusal – hit out at the latest decision.

He said: “I am so disappointed in the decision by the Scottish reporter to uphold the appeal by RBS over the decision by the planning and climate change policy board to refuse their planning application to remove the ATMs.

“The reporter states in point two of his decision notice that he had applied the town centre first approach to helping town centres adapt to economic and societal change.

“Well, taking the side of multi-national corporations like RBS to remove ATMs, which a future buyer of the site could have re-activated into life with a new provider, is not putting Johnstone town centre first – quite the opposite, it is to hammer another nail in the coffin of Johnstone’s core business sector.

“Point five of the notice states that the reporter felt allowing the removal of the ATMs would reduce costs for new occupiers, yet he does not have the presence of mind to see that the community capital for a new owner of bringing the ATMs back to life would not only assist any new business, but all other surrounding businesses as well.

“What a short-sighted approach.”

Councillor John Hood, who represents Johnstone South and Elderslie, added: “Point nine of the notice states that there were no representations from members of the public yet two councillors at the planning board make it clear that Johnstone Community Council was opposed to the decision.

“It would therefore appear to me that this notice is flawed and does not seem to properly consider the public demand for retaining the ATMs.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The right to appeal decisions made by planning authorities is an important part of the planning system.

“The independent reporter who decided this appeal was required to make their decision on the planning merits of the case and in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicated otherwise.

“The reporter took full account of the submissions made by all parties before issuing the decision notice.

“There were no representations from members of the public objecting to this proposed development.”

NatWest did not comment on the decision.