A modelling approach based on blade element momentum theory is developed for the prediction of tidal stream turbine performance in the ocean environment. Through the coupling of the blade element momentum method with computational fluid dynamics, the influence of upstream hydrodynamics on rotor performance is accounted for. Incoming flow onto the rotor can vary in speed and direction compared to free-stream conditions due to the presence of obstructions to the flow in the upstream, due to other devices for example, or due to the complexity of natural bathymetries. The relative simplicity of the model leads to short run times and a lower demand on computational resources making it a useful tool for considering more complex engineering problems consisting of multiple tidal stream turbines. Results from the model compare well against both measured data from flume experiments and results obtained using the classical blade element momentum model. A discussion considering the advantages and disadvantages of these different approaches is included.