HTTP 403 error on site hosted on OS X Snow Leopard

I suddenly started getting http 403 errors on my self hosted [with native apache installation] site that worked perfectly until Feb 5th 2010. The errors showing up in the access log looked like:

[Fri Feb 19 02:05:25 2010] [crit] [client] (13)Permission denied: /Users/username/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable, referer:

I’m not sure what changed, perhaps an OS X update from Apple, but after restoring all /private/etc/apache2/* files and the my /Users/username/Sites/ folder via TimeMachine to a date when things were working it still wouldn’t play ball.

Eventually I came across the soultion, it seems the chmod levels of the default folders had changed so doing the following in Terminal:

chmod 701 ~
chmod 705 ~/Sites

Solved everything…phew