Nearly 200 people have signed a petition urging a Tooting school to scrap plans to turn its grassy play area into a plastic substitute.

When Emma Palmer heard of the proposal to make-over Hillbrook Primary, she couldn't believe her ears.

"What they are planning is a catastrophic mistake for our local air quality, bio-diversity and they will in fact be putting the children who use this at risk," she said.

"Fake grass is dangerous, the friction burns from a fall are much worse than on natural grass, it gets oppressively hot in summer, it only lasts eight years, maintenance is expensive and it will kill the wildlife living in and around the area."

Hillbrook head teacher Deborah Hart the field was in urgent need of repairs.

"Currently we have a large field in very poor condition that we can only use for four or five months of the year," she said.

"Many sections are completely unusable for most of the year. We have attempted to re-turf and re-seed on several occasions with very poor results."

"Play and lunch times are well staggered given the number of children we have on site but it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide quality playtimes due to the limited amount of space we can use. "Natural grass is simply not practical given the large volume of children using the space."

Mrs Palmer does not deny that the field - which will see 762 kids use it come September - needs a spruce up.

But she said the benefits of the real deal outweighed the the negatives.

"The field does need to be replaced, but the suggestion is using the existing budget to facilitate real not fake grass," she added.

"With proper drainage and levelling, which has to happen to accommodate fake grass, we lay beautiful, soft, perfectly designed natural grass instead.

"When it needs to be replaced it is non biodegradable and will create an enormous amount of plastic waste for landfill and it does not give us the air we breathe. Work starts at the end of June and time is running out."

The petition, which was started two weeks ago and addressed to the Hillbrook Primary board of governors,

has amassed 196 signatures as of publishing.

Ms Hart argued that the school would never sacrifice the safety of kids.

"After much careful consideration, including consulting parents and our children, our governing board have decided that the field should be Astro-turfed using the highest gold standard sand filled material that is made in the EU and is subject to all the relevant laws and safety measures," she said.

"It will also include a four lane running track around the perimeter of the pitch.

"The area will be dug out, debris removed, filled and levelled with a drainage system underneath.

"It will also have shock pads underneath the entire area to ensure a higher level of additional safety. There will be no tarmac used on the school site."

She added that the school already had a "well planted" area within the school and that they would be looking to increase the amount of planting at Hillbrook.